There are movies that are indeed a product of its generation. I do think that Brian De Palma’s 1976 horror classic “Carrie” is one of them. It has been awhile since I saw the original film (first time I saw it was when I was 7), but I do remember it earning a lot of accolades from critics that Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were nominated for Academy awards. Well, “Carrie” is now taken to modern times with director Kimberly Peirce at its helm. It was only a matter of time before the ‘remake craze’ hit the adaptation of Stephen King’s novel and I am sure that fans of the original will come to see it. I am still not certain how I feel about this 2013 adaptation, but it sure felt a lot better than “TheRage: Carrie 2”.
Being a remake, 2013’s “Carrie” follows the same plot developments and so, it makes it rather predictable. Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz, Let Me In) is a young girl in her senior year in high school who just wants to belong and find a way to develop more as a person. However, her overly protective, deranged, religious-zealot mother Margaret (Julianne Moore) just wants her to be free of what she calls ‘sin’. After suffering years of abuse and being made the laughing stock by a group of ‘popular girls’ via the internet and social media, Carrie soon discovers that she has developed of the powers of telekinesis and embraces it. The fateful evening when Carrie attends her high school prom is about to change her life forever and woe be unto anyone who dares mock her.
Remakes are often limited by the premise of the original, and so 2013’s “Carrie” has very little to expand upon or even develop. Sure, there were notable changes spread out in the film’s screenplay and some of them were interesting. Moretz’s Carrie persona is still shy, but unlike Spacek’s Carrie, Moretz’s version is a little more communicative as an expression of this modern setting. The original also had Carrie being frightened by her own powers since during the 70’s such things were more shall we say unknown? Here, Carrie fully researches her powers and even embraces them; one could even say that she reveled in them, gained confidence because of her new-found powers and enjoyed being different. This does make sense, since in today’s times and the internet, such things have been studied and science even has evidence however arguable. While I thought the expression of modern times with the use of social media felt a little shoddy, this served as a good expression in the changes in time. Even Margaret felt a lot more deranged with the way she makes things up from the Bible.
The original film worked extremely well in a 70’s setting. Here, I am not entirely sure. I felt that several things about ‘bullying’ could’ve been more cleverly presented. I feel that it held back on this aspect, and what it presented felt rather familiar with the social media use. The film played more like a drama than a horror film and I could see that the writing probably wanted to bring the film closer to reality. It carries the cliché of ‘popular girls bullying nerdy girls’ but the dynamics didn’t exactly feel like ’high school’. It does add a rather criminal element to it and the script does benefit for being probable. It may have its share of weak spots in its screenplay, but the flow of the story was handled well. It did manage to create a build up, as I found myself rooting for the main protagonist all the way and hoping that these bullies get what they deserve.
I did like the way the way the deranged mother-developing rebellious nature of the daughter was written into its story. Margaret was horribly abusive and while she was going about it in a crazy way, she does want the best for her daughter. Carrie still loves her mother and is going through a rebellious phase which ultimately leads to her fighting back. Moretz was real good in her portrayal albeit for some reason, there was just something missing with the way she meshed with the other characters. Julianne Moore does sell the character of Margaret as the way she handled the paranoia of her character came across in a very convincing way. Portia Doubleday plays Chris who is the main nemesis of Carrie and she felt a little too animated at times. The supporting cast led by Gabrielle Wilde and Ansel Elgort were quite decent as they presented the conscience in the film.
You know all the build up was going to lead to the prom, and once it does, the film does become very entertaining. I am not a fan of CGI blood effects in horror film, and I thought that the visual trickery in the film had its good points as well bad. While I thought that the CGI was good in the presentation of the telekinetic scenes, I have very mixed feelings about the effects since some came out with that feeling of animation. Not sure, the violence was pretty entertaining and granted, some of the scenes were more violent than in the original, but the presentation didn’t have that visceral and bloody feel. It felt more built towards flamboyance than horror, sort of how I feel when I see Jean Grey from "X-Men".
2013’s “Carrie” does feel a little rough around the edges. It feels uneven and unnecessary, and while it does have its share of good ideas, it did not have the feeling of a horror movie that made the original a film that is hard to forget. Maybe it is just me, but even I have to admit that the flow of the script was smooth and the pacing made the film go by extremely well. Even when the writers made some noticeable changes from the original when it comes to tempo and elements, it is pretty much the same film and so it is hard to take its material seriously. As much as it does take its devices to a personal level, (save for the mother-daughter dynamic) it just did not go that far to create genuine emotions as the original. Nope, it isn’t as good as De Palma’s original movie but maybe it was just because I saw it first. There were some things that made it work that made it fun to watch. I did find myself rooting for Moretz’s Carrie and that itself is important that I am sure that it can find an audience. It just won’t have the same effect on ‘newbies’ the way the original did for me when I first saw it as a kid. A RENTAL first for horror fans is advisable. [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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