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Carrie (2013)

Cover art:

reviews/carrie-review-s.jpg

Carrie (2013)Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer

Directed by Kimberly Peirce


Bullying is nothing new. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were cruel cave paintings of some poor kid being mocked by his fellow Paleolithic teens. It became more prevalent in public schools, and now it’s practically epidemic with the added element of smartphones and the internet. (In fact, even as I type this review, there is yet another special on cyber-bullying on HLN’s “Raising America.”) Many victims wind up seriously injured, mentally scarred, and, in some cases, dead.

It’s not light subject matter.

Which is why I am pleased to report that the Carrie remake takes the material seriously, and what’s more, it stays true to the Stephen King novel. The story follows Carrie White, a shy, withdrawn teenager whose extreme religious upbringing by her psychotic single mom has made her an outcast among her classmates. She’s mercilessly teased, and it’s through these stressful trials that her supernatural telekinetic powers begin to emerge. The question is: Will she use them to protect herself or to harm others?

The first cinematic adaptation, released in 1976 and directed by stylistic virtuoso Brian De Palma, remains a classic and a timeless favorite to this day. While there was a negligible 2002 TV movie remake, this version is the first big-time adaptation in over 35 years.

So, how did they make it count?

First of all, an accomplished female director with a passion for telling the stories of unusual characters, Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop Loss), was brought on. They got a screenwriter who knows teens and religious family dynamics, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (“Glee,” “Big Love”). Strong actresses filled out the roles – Julianne Moore as Margaret White, Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role, and Judy Greer as the P.E. teacher who takes Carrie under her wing.

While Sissy Spacek was 26 when she originated the role of Carrie, and even though Moretz is an actual 16-year-old, Spacek still owns. She had an innately fragile, waifish, deeply contemplative quality which Moretz does not. Moore and Greer fare better, though they also act in the respective shadows of Piper Laurie and Betty Buckley. (The best casting is that of Gabriella Wilde in the role of Sue Snell.)

The story is updated to include the all-encompassing evil of cyber-bullying. The humiliating school gym shower incident, in which a confused and bleeding Carrie is told by a mob of mocking girls to “Plug it up! Plug it up!” is shot on a cellphone and uploaded to the internet. The video goes viral. Now, not just those in school know Carrie got her first period; everyone knows.

Fortunately, not much time is spent on the advent of technology. It’s acknowledged, but this is still an account about people, how teenagers interact, and of course… Carrie, her crazy mom, and that bloody prom.

The horror scenes – the showdown between Carrie and Margaret, the bucket of pig gore, Carrie’s telekinetic revenge – are all well done, and not a single punch is pulled. This movie is rated R, and by the time it’s over, you will know why.

Given the fact that it’s been 35 years since the first, and knowing how popular Moretz is, I don’t begrudge the new Carrie’s existence at all. The studio obviously took care in doing it justice, rather than just trotting out yet another remake in name only. People who haven’t seen the original will love it, and people who have seen the original should at least like it.

3 1/2 out of 5

Discuss Carrie in the comments section below!

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  • kiddcapone

    I went in with zero expectations, I watched it, I left. Basically a complete non-reaction to this. It didn’t suck, it wasn’t good, and I’m not quite sure why it exists.

    It kills me to say this, but Chloe Grace Moretz is not a good enough actress to pull off this dramatic role. I liked her in just about everything else, but her facial expressions and movements all reeked of an amateur learning the craft. She’s not going to win any awards any time soon for acting.

    Nothing in this film felt genuine. It all felt like a story with actors going through the motions. I wish it took more chances and put a new spin on the story to keep it entertaining. Just plain old BLAH BLAH HO HUM…

    Carrie (2013) 1.5/5

  • addeisdead

    Just thought I would share this story. A 15-year-old boy committed suicide last Thursday morning in a town near me. He left a suicide note that said he could not take the extreme bullying anymore. His school showed a video the day before in which a kid gets bullied at school and then goes home and kills himself. Maybe they should have shown Carrie instead! Our message to kids these days is to “tell someone,” but when they tell the school, nothing happens and the bullying gets worse. Kids need to learn to fight back, not to bow down. Preferably not with telekinetic murder, but still.

    Should Carrie 2013 have been an almost exact replica of the original film? Probably not. But the remake and the original are both very relevant to the state of things in our country right now.

  • Fearless_Froude

    The movie is forgettable, sort of like The Thing remake. There was no reason for this to be remade. It doesn’t do anything good but it doesn’t do anything really bad It’s just there. Chloe Mortez as Carrie, though she’s a great actress I felt she was too pretty to play Carrie, they couldn’t have uglied her up a bit? and for the R rating as Foy said, this was shot to be a PG-13 movie.

  • Rottenjesus

    Is there a cross promotion with Tampax in the cards or what?

    Also, FUCK REMAKES.

  • frank_dracman

    Seriously, like Levi said, can we agree to stop comparing remakes to their originals in reviews?

    One more thing. It’s a movie review, not a social commentary. I almost stopped reading after she mentioned Headline News. Yes, we get it. Bullies have been around forever. Now tell us about the movie.

    As long as it’s better than The Rage I might see it in spite of Moore. She’s the only redhead on the planet I can’t stand.

    • ChaosWeaver

      I think that’s being a little unfair. The story, and henceforth, the movie, has elements of a social commentary. Why can’t the review? Is it not an important correlation to explain why the movie is even relevent to people of this generation?

      An important element in making a horror movie, in my opinion, is making the audience relate to the characters due to their situations on screen. One of the more effective ways of doing that is by mirroring situations that are current issues in society. In this case, bullying, while it has been around forever, has become a more acknowledged issue in the media, and thus, our culture.

      By having that commentary, it makes the point that what is happening to people in real life is being reflected in the movie. If it wasn’t, why would we care about and cheer for the girl with telekenetic powers killing everything in sight? If we as a society couldn’t relate to what she goes through, it would be harder to sympathize with the character. Using the social commentary in a review for a movie with subject matter like Carrie is more than appropriate to help people in their decision to see a movie based on a review.

    • krawlingkhaos

      I will admit up front that I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I’ve read a number of reviews, many of which say that aside from the new tech, the weakest part of this version is that it cleaves so closely to the original in its look and feel. It’s hard not to compare them when the new version is, according to many sources, begging for the comparison by either not asserting its own identity enough or just aping the original (depending on the review you read). When I saw the trailers, I couldn’t help but compare them.

      Even if they had gone a drastically different route (how about actually making Carrie overweight and acne-prone?) there would still be a reason to compare and contrast, as both movies are adapted from the same book. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone question comparing a book to its movie adaptation. What is a remake but a movie adapted from another movie? If it’s not supposed to be compared, if the filmmakers don’t want it to be compared, then use an original story (or remake a movie that isn’t just widely known but actually iconic in its imagery); the bully/revenge dynamic is adaptable to all number of scenarios, and seeing as it is possibly more relevant today,if they didn’t want comparisons made, then use that dynamic in a new story with new characters. There are infinite permutations possible, but they chose to tell the same story with the same characters in (according to most sources) almost the same way: how can the two version NOT be compared?

    • Foywonder

      This is one instance where if you’ve seen the original you pretty much have to compare the two. The movie adheres so closely to the 1976 version that the writer of it is credited as co-writer of the 2013 version. The newer version does little to nothing to establish its own identity and feels like a watered down version of its predeessor. Neither awful nor good, the very definition of middling; it simply fails to resonate like it should. I’d akin this film to the experience of having seen a star-studden lavish production on Broadway and later you go see it again but this time it’s the lesser touring production version.

      It really should have been a PG-13 movie because it feels like a PG-13 horror flick geared towards 13-year old girls to young to see the original.

      • frank_dracman

        Well thanks for clearing that up, Foy. Your explanation was more informative than the review and has changed my mind about seeing it. If it’s a Psycho-level of a remake I’m staying far, far away. Bummer.

  • Matt Serafini

    Carrie was released in ’76.

  • aliensharkboy

    Interesting. I still believe this movie sucks though.