Back in 1976, a time before the internet, smart phones and CGI, Brian De Palma brought to life Stephen King’s Carrie.
Nearly 40 years have passed and Carrie still stands as a classic of modern horror movies. Remaking a landmark film is a difficult task. However, I've been looking forward to seeing this updated version by director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) ever since I saw the first trailer for it.
Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie) and Julianne Moore (Margaret) take on the starring roles and do an admirable job of filling the shoes of Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. Moretz is one of the best young actresses in Hollywood and she brings a powerful performance here, matching up well with Moore who plays Margaret as a truly creepy Evangelical mother, determined to shelter her daughter from the sins of the world. Judy Greer compliments as Carrie's gym teacher and the rest of the cast is rounded out by Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday and Ansel Elgort as Carrie's high school classmates.
There were aspects of this film that I thought were very well done, Pierce sticks to the original for the most part, adding a few wrinkles to bring the story in to 2013 and herein lies most of my issues. I can understand doing a few things to update the story. What would be the point of making an exact duplicate of the original? It’s the way it was done that bothered me. At times it felt like I was watching a poor supernatural version of Mean Girls. For me it made things feel terribly uneven. The juxtaposition of Carrie's world at home compared to the portrayal of the rest of her classmates did not work for me.
As remakes go I would say this is a decent effort. Moretz and Moore carry this film. If not for them, it very well could have been a mess. Clearly the original is still better. It would be asking a lot to trump Brian De Palma’s classic. Yet the basic premise of high school bullying resonates strong and the infamous prom scene is a bloody joy.
Horror fans are likely to be split on how they feel about this remake. I have a feeling casual fans will like it more than the die hards but overall it is worth checking out. So slap on your rented tux or overpriced prom dress and head to the theater. Nobody will laugh at you. We promise.
-Review by Brian Rohe