Oct 9, 2014

Review: Carrie (2013)

Remaking Brian De Palma's Carrie is a big deal. Stephen King doesn't seem so enamoured with the original but then again, he doesn't seem to really like any of the adaptations of his books now does he? Personally I really like Carrie quite a bit. De Palma wraps everything up with a stylish bow and Pino Donaggio's score is pretty top notch. In terms of a horror film, it only kicks into overdrive in the last quarter of the film and man is it horrifying. It's pretty hard to forget the imagery of those powerful scenes near the end, that's for sure.

Kimberly Peirce has a big challenge to come anywhere close to matching the original. I do think that she's a pretty good candidate in terms of being able to deliver the goods though. Or maybe not though because she quite literally hasn't done much since 1999's Boys Don't Cry, which was brilliant all the same. It's tough to say. With Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore in tow, at the very least there's no way this film can be worse than mediocre right? No way can this be worse than the 2002 TV movie remake right?


Genre: drama, horror
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
Produced by: Kevin Misher, J. Miles Dale
Written by: Lawrence D. Cohen, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Music by: Marco Beltrami
Running time: 100 minutes
Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Screen Gems, Misher Films
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Releasing, Screen Gems, Andes Films, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: $30,000,000
Box office: $84,790,678 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Ansel Elgort, Alex Russell, Portia Doubleday, Judy Greer, Zoë Belkin, Karissa Strain, Katie Strain, Samantha Weinstein, Cynthia Preston, Jefferson Brown, Barry Shabaka Henley, Max Topplin, Connor Price, Demetrius Joyette

Note: It's hard to avoid giving away spoilers for this Carrie and past Carrie adaptations for this review, so I will not be putting any markers anywhere saying there are spoilers. Spoilers are everywhere.


Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) lives with her crazed and hyper religious mother Margaret (Julianne Moore). Carrie is pretty much forbidden to do anything that regular high-schoolers do and as a result is ignorant, shy and doesn't have a single friend. After a gym class, Carrie experiences her very first period and panics, believing that she might be bleeding to death. She's met with derision from fellow classmates who throw pads and tampons at her while lead popular girl Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) films the whole thing. It's an ugly episode that leads to Carrie's mother coming to get her from school and all the girls involved in the bullying to be punished.


The first thing I want to address is Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie White. It's cool that Chloë is an actual teen playing the role of a teenager but she does not look the part of a daughter who's mother is a religious fanatic. I couldn't help but notice that her hair would change from various states of "made-up to look not made-up" and actually made-up! Carrie's hair all straightened like all the popular girls? No way does that fly.

Chloë Grace Moretz' Carrie White makes me think of a rom-com "ugly duckling" who just takes off her glasses, puts on a bit of makeup and voila, she's beauty queen now. There's just not enough of a transformation from pre-prom Carrie to prom Carrie. I don't think that Chloë Grace Moretz is a terrible actress or anything. It's simply that she's not suited for a role where she's already too traditionally attractive. It also doesn't help that not enough is done to turn her into a mega conservative and unconfident teenager.

I did enjoy Julianne Moore as Margaret White though. She's not necessarily as memorable as Piper Laurie in the role, but who could be anyway? The story goes more in depth into her character than any Carrie adaptation before. Her religion which is based on Christianity is basically its own sect. It's far stricter and even causes her to feel the need to self-harm herself as punishment for certain things. It boils down to Margaret not being all there mentally and Carrie knows it. Carrie does her best to keep things under control but obviously it's not easy. Carrie and Margret's relationship is definitely an aspect I liked of this film.

In terms of Carrie's ability to be a good horror film, prepare to be massively disappointed. There isn't really much of an effort in injecting any sort of scares for the first three quarters of the film which is fine with me I suppose because the original Carrie did the same thing. However there was a constant sense of uneasiness through a lot of that running time that is sadly non-existent this time around. There's a little bit of that when Carrie is locked in her closet but that's it. 

The prom sequence which is the most important part of the film if you ask me, doesn't get things right either. I didn't get that sinking feeling from the original movie when the pig's blood was poured on Carrie and I didn't get that horrified feeling either from when she went on her prom rampage. I mean I suppose the prom itself was alright. Carrie and Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) made a cute couple and had some pretty nice scenes together, but once the horror is meant to kick in it never does.

Kimberly Peirce decided for some reason that we needed to see the bucket get tipped three times as if that's going to make things more impactful. It reminded me of the TV movie remake Carrie from 2002 instead. I'm also not a fan of how Carrie uses her telekinetic powers in this adaptation either. Chloë Grace Moretz waves her arms around like she's some kind of Jedi using Force push all over the place. The rampage scene has Chloë looking really silly and targeting specific people instead of blindly punishing everyone. It takes away from how scary the sequence can be and makes the entire movie feel more like some kind of teenage revenge story. These scenes comes pretty close to just being CGI-fests, but the movie manages to at least avoid that a bit. Marco Beltrami's score was pretty decent until this point as well.

The other editng choice I have to really question is the comically huge Dutch angle that happens when Carrie White gets home. If there were a proper build-up until Carrie's total loss of control followed by an absolutely brutal and horrifying prom rampage sequence,  maybe it could've worked. Maybe. Dutch angles aren't easy to get right and this is a great example of a Dutch angle that seems to completely fail in its mission to convey psychological unease.

To finish off this review, the ending is also a massive disappointment. I'm sure that Kimberly Peirce was just aiming to do something different from the arm popping out of the grave in the original but it's just a disappointing end to a disappointing movie. There are some elements here and there in the movie that work pretty well, but when it really matters Carrie falls apart. This is no horror movie. It's a revenge drama with some science fiction thrown in. To me that's not how Carrie should be. While it's certainly watchable, it'll never be the memorable and horrifying movie that De Palma's Carrie was able to be.



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