Know her name. Fear her power.
Directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie White, Julianne Moore as Margaret White, Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell, Portia Doubleday as Chris Hargensen, Ansel Elgort as Tommy Ross, Alex Russell as Billy Nolan and Judy Greer as Ms. Desjardin. Also stars Barry Shabaka Henley as Principal Morton, Zoë Belkin as Tina and Cynthia Preston as Eleanor Snell.
So, finally, the remake of Carrie, or is it a reimagining? I’m pretty sure it’s not a reboot. Fuck, who cares? The new Carrie on Blu-ray! That’ll do. Based on the Stephen King story and automatically ‘in the dock’ for merely existing on the same planet as the ’76 classic, not so much the ’02 remake. I remember when I first saw the teaser trailer for this, couldn’t wait to see it. So, how did that turn out?
Well, the first thing I think I’ve got to do is avoid spoilers as much as possible. There must be people reading this who haven’t seen this new version yet and me pointing out differences between this and Carrie ’76, left, right and centre, is just going to ruin it for them. So, I’ll try and keep spoilers to a minimum and especially avoid talking about specific scenes that do something ‘fresh’ in detail. I haven’t seen Carrie ’02 yet so I can’t comment on that.
One big difference between this and the two previous versions of Carrie is the age of the actress playing her, Chloë Grace Moretz was 15 when she filmed this whereas Sissy Spacek (Carrie ’76) was 26 and Angela Bettis (Carrie ’02) was 28, Carrie is 17 in the Stephen King novel so this is certainly truer to the novel in that respect. I haven’t actually read the Stephen King book yet so I can’t comment on anything else regarding that. Wow, no spoilers and no comparison to the book, this review’s in serious danger of sucking ass. But did the film? Suck ass?
Well, one problem this has, which isn’t going to be an issue for everyone I suppose, is the supporting cast. One thing that made Carrie ’76 such a great film was that all the main characters were such distinct individuals. There’s no John Travolta in this, there’s no William Katt, or Nancy Allen, or Amy Irving. The supporting cast here might be pretty but they’re pretty bland too. Yes, they’re competent, but I think that if you’re going to remake/reimagine (whatever!) something as well-loved as Carrie then competent doesn’t really cut it. In a run-of-the-mill slasher or something I think this lot would be OK, nice to see them getting killed in interesting ways, definitely, but in Carrie, seriously?
As for the leads, Carrie and her mother, well, Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore are nowhere near as annoying as the rest of the cast but neither of them really brings their role to life. Am I hung up on the original? Maybe, definitely I guess, but I’m also reacting to the performances in this remake as honestly as I can. The bullying is still pretty vicious but there’s a huge lack of involvement for the audience throughout. In the ’76 film, Carrie and her mother were so separate from the rest of that world, and Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were so fucking good, that it was easy to sympathise with Carrie and her need to be accepted in the bigger, saner picture of normality. There was also a humanity to characters like Sue Snell and Tommy Ross and Miss Collins (Ms. Desjardin in this) that made that ‘normal’ world worth being accepted into, which in turn made Carrie’s need to be part of it so much more real. That’s all missing here. Completely missing.
There are more special effects in this than in the ’76 film, not surprisingly, which basically means we see a lot of more of Carrie’s powers, her telekinetic abilities. But this is the generation spoilt rotten by special effects, so how is a bunch of CGI even a plus? It just isn’t.
The ‘modern’ music played at the prom by the way is also very annoying, that could be me, and so, in my opinion, it adds nothing to the emotion of the situation and where the prom scene in the ’76 film was simply beautiful, I mean that sincerely, this is just, I dunno, ordinary. And for a remake/reimagining of Carrie to feel ‘ordinary’ at this point is just wrong.
The main event, the prom, is nicely done. NOW there’s a reason for optimism, too little too late though, to be frank. What can they do with CGI that they couldn’t do in 1976? That’s what I was thinking. Well, as it happens, quite a lot. It’s spectacular stuff and I ain’t gonna knock it, I was impressed with the effects. This ‘being impressed’ feeling continued into the finale, or ‘beyond the prom’ as I suppose it could be called. There’s no way I’m going to say exactly what happened at the end but anyone who’s seen the ’76 film and not this will probably be wondering how this remake went about that. Watch it, all I’m saying, watch it. Find out for yourself.
Have I been unkind? Well fuck me, probably. This isn’t a bad film, not at all, it’s just bad when you compare it to the ’76 film. Next time I watch it I’ll probably think it was a pretty good film actually but this is all about my gut reaction first time around, my love of the ’76 film, my respect for a masterpiece. The ’76 film as I’ve said before is about futility, whether or not that is an aspect of the book I don’t know. But futility was what I got from the ’76 film. This just didn’t reach me as anymore than a well-made, yes, no denying it was well-made, up-to-date retelling that lacked heart badly but worked on a visual level without much of a struggle. It’s worth a watch, mainly if you don’t have any 70s baggage round your neck. But the point is, that 70s baggage is not a bad thing, it’s really just recognition of something special. This, I wouldn’t call this special in any way. I expected more and although I didn’t expect much, I was still disappointed.