Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Bloody Violence, Disturbing Images, Language and some Sexual Content
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
Written by: Lawrence D. Cohen & Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
(based on the novel CARRIE by Stephen King)
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Ansel Elgort, Alex Russell, Porita Doubleday & Judy Greer
A remake of CARRIE isn’t necessarily a bad idea. Especially, because bullying and school violence are both tragically more relevant in this day and age. While Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Stephen King’s first novel is regarded as one of the better King films out there, it did play fast and loose with the source material. The most likely reason for that was because of effects limitations. With acclaimed director Kimberly Peirce at the helm and a budget of 30 million, you might hope that this 2013 version of CARRIE be a scarier and more faithful version of King’s terrifying book. Your hope, as mine was, would be vain. 2013’s CARRIE isn’t a travesty like 2002’s TV remake (which was meant as the origin tale for a series), but it’s still pretty bad. This is almost a shot-for-shot, line-for-line remake of De Palma’s film with a glossier look and worse effects.
Carrie is a shy, sheltered, and introverted teenager. After a particularly bad day in gym class, Carrie has her first period in the locker room. Under the impression that she’s bleeding to death, Carrie is left emotionally scarred by the mocking of her classmates. Carrie’s religious zealot mother, Magaret, doesn’t necessarily aid Carrie’s self-esteem by locking her in a closet and telling her to pray “the curse of blood” away. Don’t feel too bad for Carrie though, as she’s discovered she possesses telekinetic powers and is further developing them. Meanwhile, the gym teacher and one classmate feel horrible for the traumatic experience Carrie went through and try to boost her confidence. However, other classmates are less sympathetic and plan on upping the bullying. Pushing around a fragile telekinetic teenage girl isn’t exactly the wisest move and there will be a reckoning.
One of the first mistakes that this new version of CARRIE makes right off the bat is in the casting. While I don’t have a problem with most of the performers (although they’re mainly just young, pretty people who might belong in a fashion magazine), Chloe Grace Moretz is completely wrong for the part of Carrie. I could possibly buy Moretz in the role of a key bully, but she’s totally miscast as fragile, tender Carrie White. It’s also almost as if Moretz has to go out of her way to look like a shy introvert and seems very over-the-top. She keeps her mouth agape (Kristen Stewart style) in early scenes and walks like she’s a hunchback through most of the film. I don’t have a problem with Moretz slouching to give off the impression of a bullied introvert, but when she’s adding a limp into the mix, it just seems silly. The only person who puts in a halfway decent performance is Julianne Moore who’s well cast as Carrie’s mentally unstable mother.
Despite the half-assed excuse being thrown around of “2013’s CARRIE isn’t a remake because it’s another adaptation of King’s novel,” the movie plays out pretty much exactly as De Palma’s version did. There’s the addition of digital video in a couple of scenes with that cleverly coming into play as a plot device in one of the few good, original moments. The effects have been upgraded to bad CGI. Somehow, this remake also winds up less gory and violent than the ’76 film. If you have an R-rated CARRIE in 2013, you better damn well use that R rating when the violence comes into play. Instead, this could have been PG-13 if there were a couple less F-bombs. Throw in the nauseating use of a modern pop soundtrack to attract gullible teenagers who think a loud noise is the scariest thing in the world and you’ve got yourself a guaranteed hit. It’s also worth noting that so much of the original film’s dialogue has been kept in the script that the ’76 screenwriter received a writing credit on this 2013 version, which is completely inexcusable any way you slice it.
2013’s CARRIE is the absolute epitome of why people hate most current remakes. Kimberly Peirce has directed amazing work in the past (BOYS DON’T CRY), but seems to be a gun for hire here. Save for a couple of fleeting moments and the casting of Julianne Moore, this remake misses the mark all around. The prime example of this would be in a comparing and contrasting of the final scenes from both films. De Palma’s version built up an atmospheric suspense around the final scene and gave everyone one last nightmare-inducing jolt that led into the haunting theme playing over the credits. This 2013 take opts for a fake piece of CGI on a setting that’s not remotely creepy and ends on a rock tune. That alone should say it all right there. If you’ve seen the original film, then just avoid this remake. If you’re interested in watching this remake and haven’t seen the 1976 version, do yourself a favor and go watch the De Palma’s film instead.