Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
Written by: Lawrence D. Cohen & Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Julianne Moore
When raised in such a restricted lifestyle some events appearing to be normal to some may manifest into a life-altering event for others. It continually justifies the purposes of socialization and how isolation can create more damage than one can prepare themselves for. Unfortunately, for the titular character in this remake, this moment begins a series of unfortunate events.
Having lived a sheltered life, Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz) experiences her first period in the gym showers and believes she’s dying. She gets mocked for not knowing about menstruation, which leads to some of the perpetrators feeling vindictive and others more contrite when they are punished for bullying her.
Serving as the remake of the 1976 iteration and a new adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, Carrie attempts to provide a modern look at the story. A treatment not necessarily needing a modern interpretation seeing as this story remains just as timely, but new technology adds different layers. For example, the scene of Carrie’s misfortune of menstruating feels extra cruel where instead of just having a group of girls throwing tampons at her, they record it on their cell phones. This act could not have been possible in 1976 unless the girls just kept a camera in the locker room.
One place where this film falls short and ultimately proves to be a lesser iteration comes from the casting. Chloë Grace Moretz takes on the role of the titular character and she just does not fit the character nearly as well as Sissy Spacek. I’m not sure exactly where it comes from but her superstar stature does not lend well to the meek character of Carrie. She certainly tried her best, but it never came around as much as she wanted it to. On the other hand, Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother, Margaret White, completely nails the role. She takes the aura she typically brings to her roles and completely unwinds this completely unhinged performance. The character of Margaret needs to have the balance of being intimidating yet inviting all at once. Moore naturally pulls this off in style, as she conjures up this uneasiness necessary for the character.
The story plays out the way it has from the novel, as it displays the cruelty of teenagers seen through the perspective of Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) and Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday). All of the girls participating in Carrie’s horrific event receive detention and the attitudes shown by Chris and Sue show two extremes of how teenagers act to a shame reaction. Chris reacts by further trying to harm Carrie psychologically while Sue tries her best to make restitution by asking her boyfriend to ask the aggrieved girl to prom.
The difference between Chris and Sue makes for an interesting dichotomy, but the most interesting scenes remain between Carrie and her mother. Margaret locks her in closets to pray whenever she gets out of line. Their scenes come with the most tension because of the fragility of Carrie’s psyche and how easily Margaret can wound her. Things begin to turn as the titular character gains her telekinetic powers and begins to manifest some agency. The start of menstruation coincides with a large step towards womanhood. It may have been traumatic in the way others treated her, but Carrie’s growth in confidence and strength as she accepts her womanhood speaks plenty about her character. The conversations she has with Margaret get more enticing and the climax of the feature delivers.
This remake of Carrie comes with its merits and the proficient way it tells its story. It adds some modern ideas not available when Stephen King wrote the novel and when Brian De Palma made the 1976 adaptation. Most of the casting works outside of the titular character, which should not be the case and dings the film in its attempt to justify its existence. With what this film adds, I still cannot reason as to why this story needed to be remade other than the recent craze for King’s stories. It may open up a whole new generation to this story and the evils of religious zealotry and how vengeance can be sweet even when incredibly conflicting. Overall, it stands as a well-made film but one I would not recommend as the definitive viewing experience for this harrowing story.