Carrie White (Moretz) is the high-school weird girl, tormented by her classmates and psychologically abused by her Bible-bashing mother (Moore). And then she discovers her telekinetic powers...
Tragic though the tale of Carrie White remains, the person to feel most sorry for here is Kimberly Peirce. She’s a talented director who has yet to live up to the promise of her stunning debut, Boys Don’t Cry. And, for all its strengths, her re-imagining of Stephen King’s debut novel doesn’t correct that slide.
Her problem is a beardy one: Brian De Palma. At the height of his powers when he lobbed that bucket of blood over Sissy Spacek, his soulful, haunting take was and is so indelible it would make any director look anonymous in comparison.
The same can be said of the cast. The central performances of Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore are strong, but with caveats. Where Piper Laurie’s batshit old dear was almost supernaturally consumed by her fundamentalism, Moore’s is a more grounded loon, prone to prodding herself in penance with sewing implements. Her religious fervour is a cross to bear, not to be revelled in, and it’s less effective.
Moretz similarly puts a new spin on her iconic character. Some of this modernity smartly piles on the cruelty — specifically the shower scene, which sees her filmed on an iPhone while being taunted with tampons. But, come the prom, her empowered Carrie is too in control of her telekinesis, contorting into Ringu rickets as she exacts
her revenge. Spacek’s Carrie was sympathetic even when she was smacking benches into people. When Moretz lets it fly there’s a smile in her eyes that makes her too monstrous.
What this adaptation does have is a reason for existing. Comfortably superior to any of the recent horror remakes, it is efficient and effective, and has a topicality in a world where the subject of bullying is a heated debate. It also looks to the book more than De Palma and has some nice moments (raining stones) that King-completists will enjoy. Its refocusing of the tale as a superhero origin story, meanwhile, is a fresh take; for anyone who hasn’t seen Chronicle, anyway.
It’s just a shame it’s in such a damn rush. Like her horny teens, Peirce’s movie so hurries toward the main event, it doesn’t ever lie back and enjoy the build up. De Palma mined emotion out of his smaller moments, making his climax as soulful as it was spectacular. Peirce’s, by comparison, is a bit wham, bam, thank you ma’am.
A remake that doesn’t see the legacy of Carrie White burn in hell. But not one that adds much to it either.
Reviewed by Mark Dinning