The Film Review: Carrie

AT the onset of puberty, a bullied high school girl discovers that she has telekinetic powers and, after one final prank is pulled on her during prom night, uses them to get revenge on her tormenters.

The original 1976 De Palma version (based on the novel by Stephen King) was shocking for its time, but by today’s standards it seems all a bit too straightforward – nothing significant has been added or changed.

Whilst an argument can be made for bringing the material up to date for a new audience (cell phones and social media are now included in the methods of bullying), this new version follows the original so slavishly (almost beat for beat) that it makes you wonder why they even bothered.

There are plenty of missed opportunities. An interesting choice of director (Kimberly Pierce – best known for directing an Oscar-winning Hilary Swank in Boys Don’t Cry) coupled with a story where the majority of the cast is made up of females, is a tantalising proposition and yet it turns out there is no new angle or unique take on the material after all. High profile media coverage of school massacres have been increasingly embedded in the public consciousness in the years since – some of that dread could have been tapped into – but once again this film just seems to play it safe, far too loyal to its predecessor and too light on the horror.

Despite competent special effects, the violence portrayed is more superhero-esque and less disturbing than it should have been, especially when it comes to the infamous prom scene. Maybe it was due to studio pressure but the end result of this version of Carrie is a bit too teen friendly, when perhaps a more edgy and disturbing take on the source material would have made it all more effective and worthwhile.

Julianne Moore has a decent go at the overbearingly religious mother (although she doesn’t quite match the terrifying performance of Piper Laurie) but it is, rather surprisingly, Chloe Moretz who is miscast in the titular role. Despite being one of the most talented young actors in the business, she is simply too naturally beautiful for the role of a bullied outcast (that no amount of frumping up by the wardrobe department can help convince us otherwise). She looks too normal, acts too normal, just a little clumsy at sports – we never really buy into the idea of her as a victim.

Of course this doesn’t help that she is waving her arms around like one of the X-Men come the final scenes. The fact that she seems to be wilfully conducting an orchestra of death (in contrast to Sissy Spacek’s almost uncontrollable lashing out whilst looking scarily rigid) makes this new Carrie harder to sympathise with.
A remake in every sense of the word – and a thoroughly average one at that.

(Score: 2.5 out of 5)

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