© 2013 Ray Wong

A remake of the 1976 classic that was based on Stephen King's bestseller, Carrie tells the story of a young girl with a tremendous and deadly power. It is also a story about parent-child relationship and bullying. How relevant!

Reclusive, religious seamstress Margaret White (Julianne Moore) lives with her teenage daughter Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) in a small town. When the state requires that Carrie be taken out of homeschool and put into a local high school, Margaret reluctantly let her go but constantly reminds her of the sins and evils around them. When Carrie unexpectedly gets her period during P.E. class, her classmates, led by Chris (Portia Doubleday), tease and taunt her as well as record a video of her ordeal and putting it online to humiliate her.

Feeling bad for what she's done to Carrie, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) believes that she must set things right. So she asks her popular, boy scout of a boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) to take Carrie to the prom instead. Tommy reluctantly obliges, but later finds that he really likes Carrie. Feeling wanted and happy for the first time in her life, Carrie defies her mother and agrees to go with Tommy.

Meanwhile, because of her part in bullying Carrie, Chris is suspended from school, and thus is barred from going to the prom. Chris decides to take revenge on Carrie at the prom. When Sue realizes what is going on, she rushes to the prom to warn Carrie, but she is too late…

As Carrie's mentally ill, religious mother, Julianne Moore (Don Jon) has given one of her best performances of the year. There is a good range in her portrayal, from the mentally disturbed and Bible-thumping fanatics to being a loving, concerned mother. Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass 2) did her best with the iconic role as Carrie, but she is no Sissy Spacek. Personally I think Moretz was miscast in this role. She is way too cute and pretty and smart (she is Hit Girl, after all), and she never really convinces me that she is this shy, helpless girl. Thus her transformation at the prom seems forced and unauthentic.

Gabriella Wilde (The Three Musketeers) is bland as Sue Snell, the moral center of the story. Don't get me wrong, Wilde is beautiful and sweet, looking the part, but her performance is underwhelming. Portia Doubleday (Almost Kings) does better as the villainous Chris, but her portrayal also edges on being two-dimensional. Judy Greer (The Descendants) does a good job as the no-nonsense gym teacher who is the only person (seriously, where are all the other teachers?) kind to Carrie. Newcomer Ansel Elgort is all right as Tommy, the kind-hearted jock, but Elgort plays it so straight that even Superman would feel threatened.

The screenplay by Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguiree-Sacasa stays rather true to the original novel and movie. They only updated certain things to make the teen horror more relevant (modern-day technologies, jargons, etc.). However, they didn't do enough to update this (one could use some Hip Hop or relevant pop culture references, for example), and the whole thing feels old-fashioned. It's as if we were watching something made in the 80s but with 2013 technologies. So the result is an odd sense of inauthenticity. It feels off.

And while King's story and characters still feel relevant today (religious zealots, bullying, revenge, child abuse, etc.), I can't help but feel that the treatment of Carrie, at least in this rendition, feels seriously outdated. The idea of some teenage girl's viral video of being tormented for having her period doesn't ring true to me in today's world. Yes, teenagers can still be cruel today, but the things they do would have been much, much worse. As a horror film, I doubt today's audience would find it riveting or scary.

Kimberly Peirce's (Boys Don't Cry) direction also is bland. The visual flair of the original movie by De Palma is gone. True, this movie feels more realistic and less stylized, but the result seems dull in comparison. Why do a remake if it can't be as good or better than the original? In that regard, Carrie fails spectacularly. It is still very entertaining, for sure; but it's also rather forgettable.

Stars: Julianne Moore, Chloe Grace Moretz, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell, Judy Greer, Ansel Elgort
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Writers: Lawrence D. Cohen, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (based on novel by Stephen King)
Distributor: Screen Gems
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content
Running Time: 100 minutes


Script - 7
Performance - 7
Direction - 6
Cinematography - 7
Music/Sound - 8
Editing - 7
Production - 7

Total - 7.1 out of 10.0 

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