‘Carrie’ remake not nearly such a bloodbath as original
Since there is no activity, paranormal or otherwise, for filmgoers looking to get a jolt or two this Halloween, Hollywood once again hailed to the King for seasonal scares.
Director Kimberly Peirce decided to tackle Stephen King’s first novel, “Carrie,” as it has been 40 years since its first publishing and 37 since Brian DePalma’s iconic film take on the tale. And when you think about it, the timing seems right for an update. With a national spotlight on the profound effects of bullying, the tale of a tormented teen ostracized by her peers has the potential to resonate in the proper hands.
And you would think that Peirce, having so deftly handled similar subject matter in her debut “Boys Don’t Cry,” would be just the person to delve into the lives of those subjected to round-the-clock anguish in the days of social media. Aside from one brief venture into a YouTube video posting, that aspect is never touched upon again. Instead, it’s a pretty straightforward cut-and-paste of the original, pig’s blood and all. Which begs the question, “Why?”
I'm no purist when it comes to remakes. And I think, with proper purpose and framing, a good story can oft be retold cinematically. But aside from a glossy new sheen, “Carrie” does nothing that DePalma did not splash across his canvas decades ago. This is actually the fourth incarnation of King’s twisted take on “Are You There God, It’s Me, Margaret?” There was a cash-grab sequel in 1999, followed by a 2002 made-for-TV flick that felt like a “very special” episode of “Beverly Hills 90210.” Need I even bring up the cursed Broadway musical?
The latest version feels like the “Twilight”-ing of telekinesis: as though some focus group wanted to come up with a subject in the horror genre that was not cornered (vampires, werewolves) or oversaturated (zombies), and build a teen audience around it. In doing so, they try to ugly up one of the latest “it” gals on the market, Chloe Grace Moretz, as the shy, sheltered teen harangued by her zealous mommy. Moretz does not yet have the depth nor vulnerability to make us buy into her plight. Her slouching and frizzled hair are the cinematic equivalent of putting glasses on the secret school hottie to make her a nerd.
And speaking of frizzy hair, Pierce does her best to frump up Julianne Moore as the fire-and-brimstone mommy. While she is capable of putting the “belt” in Bible Belt (thwacking her daughter repeatedly with the Good Book), she cannot hold a votive candle to the piety brought to the screen by Piper Laurie in the original version. The other cast members look as though they’ve either sauntered out of a Taylor Swift video or wandered off “Jersey Shore.” (I’m pretty sure that was The Situation slaughtering that pig.) They all may as well wear matching varsity jackets that say Future Victim and a number, as there is little else to distinguish them.
“Carrie” is not merely a bad film, it’s a wholly unnecessary and sloppy one. Filled with subplots that go nowhere (what is up with that English teacher who apparently hates Carrie and simultaneously makes sexytime eyes with another student?), wrong-headed casting choices, and, most importantly, a stream of missed opportunities, “Carrie” feels more like an audition for an “X-Men” entrance exam than a horror film.