Review | ‘Carrie’

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Despite their dubious pedigree, there’s really nothing wrong with remakes, at least in theory. A staple of entertainment long before they became a blight on the face of creativity, remakes can work beautifully if they approach the source material from an alternate perspective, or explore different ideas than its predecessor. But as Carrie proves, remakes can be truly awful, not because they’re unoriginal, or even lack proficiency, but because they offer nothing new to a story that audiences are deeply familiar with.

Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass 2) plays Carrie White, a wispy introvert raised by her devoutly religious mother Margaret (Julianne Moore) to avoid and even fear the sinful temptations of the modern world. After unexpectedly experiencing her period for the first time in the shower after gym, Carrie is tormented by her classmates, including popular girls Sue (Gabriella Wilde) and Chris (Portia Doubleday), until their teacher Ms. Desjardin (Judy Greer) intervenes. Subsequently, Desjardin punishes an unrepentant Chris by forbidding her from attending the prom, while Carrie discovers she has an unusual ability – to move objects with her mind.

Feeling bad about the bathroom incident, Sue decides to skip the prom, and enlists her boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) to ask Carrie to attend with him. Despite Margaret’s reservations, not to mention her own suspicions, Carrie agrees to go, eager to find some sense of normalcy between her mother’s controlling influence and her classmates’ alienating harassment. But her plans for a fun, “normal” night out are threatened when Chris decides to take revenge on Carrie at the dance.

Chloe Moretz;Julianne MooreDirector Kimberly Peirce’s film nobly purports to re-adapt the Stephen King novel upon which the original Carrie was based. But Peirce lacks Brian De Palma’s subtlety with actors and his grace with cameras, reducing the title character’s struggle to balance social acceptance and paternal control to an unflattering and unreasonable tug of war, and tackling the story’s operatic sweep with a perfunctory sort of theatricality that undermines both believability and suspense. It isn’t that the story lacks the possibility for naturalism, but that Peirce stages it with the same melodrama as De Palma, which undermines its potential as a “believable” tale of a tormented teen taking revenge on her classmates.

As talented as Moore is, she’s been in as many howlers as masterpieces, and her abilities are wasted here as Carrie’s domineering mother, fidgeting and scratching at herself with conspicuous tics that are more designed to unnerve audiences than demonstrate any sort of pathology. Moretz, on the other hand, has been directed to play Carrie as if she’s a burgeoning puppet master, sweeping her arms and controlling objects like she’s a member of the X-Men. That De Palma handles Carrie’s developing powers more subtly than Peirce is laughable, but that approach actually made them more unnerving – as if they were subconscious manifestations of her emotions rather than deliberate actions – and Moretz’s performance feels much campier (and less believable) as a consequence.

But even if the majority of the movie’s problems comes from what departs from the original film, the reason it really fails is because it skews too closely overall. “Not identical” is not the same as different, cinematically speaking. And Peirce’s much more interesting thread about the battle between mothers and daughters, or female authority figures and their younger counterparts, offers an anemic addition to the rest of the story’s outcast revenge fantasy, which is drawn broadly and obviously through one-dimensional, villainous performances like Moore’s and Doubleday’s. Ultimately a newer rather than different or even updated version of the same story that audiences already know, Carrie isn’t even interesting enough to be a true disappointment, instead living up to all expectations of being a superfluous, uninspired reminder of the greatness of its predecessor.

Carrie opens Friday nationwide.

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Comments

  • Happily LS

    Sad times. I was hoping this would be at least watchable, but the reviews are pretty much unanimous, from the sites that I respect.

  • lewis4510

    The Fright Night remake failed because it strayed to far from the original this fails because it tries to imitate the original.

  • Sentry616

    I wanted the shower scene unchanged. Ah well.

  • vpuik

    So the only people who would see this are the people who are deeply familiar with the original? I think you’re missing the point of remakes. To me it seems like the purpose of a remake is to introduce a familiar movie to a new audience. Not necessarily to rewrite the story so the big fans can watch their favorite movie and not feel like they are watching the same movie.

    Unfortunately reviewers generally are familiar with the source material and the reviews generally are preaching to the choir. (they’re aimed at other movie nerds) So forget the previous comment, I gues the comment does apply to the target audience. :)

  • art123guy

    Great observation. Apparently the best remake is one that strays from the original while imitating it at the same time.

    I didn’t like the Fright Night remake, not because it strayed form the original but because of all the crappy CGI. It had some good points and I thought it actually explained the relationship between Charley and Ed better than the original.

  • mel

    It’s the same with Man of Steel. People were expecting the Donner Superman but they got something radically different.

    Man of Steel was awesome BTW

  • Truth

    Awesomely bad. And NO ONE was expecting the Donner version, that’s absurd. That had been done with Routh and it bombed. But people were looking for Superman, not some ersatz Superman trying to be Wolverine.

  • Timothy Donald Cook

    Wahhh Wahhh Wahhh. Man of Steel was Epic.

  • Happily LS

    The Fright Night remake wasn’t bad. It was cheesily entertaining, that’s pretty much all it could hope for.

  • Lourdes Meinhold

    Guess I’ll wait for it to appear on Netflix this time next year…..

  • David Fullam

    Reviews are all over the place, mostly in the poor to okay range. Well, at least the teasers and trailers were absolutely kick ass.

  • jetscreamer

    I think Charles Xavier has a cameo during the credit.

  • TheTrueGhoul

    Oh man that would be so cool, but I know the truth will just let me down…

  • devil leonx

    Indeed we did not get a Superman film, we got a film about a young man who not only just wanted to help others but also learn about who he was, his origins and heritage and how to embrace them both. Indeed it was more a film about Clark Kent then it was about Superman, I do not think that is a bad thing but a great thing actually. And for the record it is not Superman that is like Wolverine but Wolverine that is like Superman, Clark did explore the world to find who he was.

    Less you mean something else??

  • Joe Fiore

    Fright Night didn’t ‘fail’. It failed at the BOX OFFICE but that wasn’t because people didn’t like it, it was because they didn’t see it. (You can’t dislike what you didn’t see). The film got excellent reviews from fans and critics alike.

    Also, it didn’t stray far from the original at all. The Fright Night remake was very, very similar to the original. The only real ‘change’ was to the Pete Vincent character because a horror host wouldnt have worked in 2012. But amazingly that one change added a while new dynamic that kind of made the film work as a whole.

  • Joe Fiore

    Any CGI in the Fright Night remake wasn’t really very noticeable.

  • Joe Fiore

    Man of Steel sucked.

    You can’t blame that film’s faults on comparisons to Dick Donner. A bad film is just a bad film, period.

  • Joe Fiore

    The Routh film was excellent. Man of Steel was baaaaaaaaaad.

  • Joe Fiore

    Epicly awful, maybe.

  • art123guy

    Time to see the eye doctor.

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but I seem to recall the scene where they’re in the car on the dark road trying to escape Jerry bothering me visually for some reason.

    But surely the worst is when we see, from Charley’s POV, Jerry on fire in half vampire mode snapping at the screen in the final scene. Pure garbage CGI.

  • Nate Blank

    The original Carrie sucked. It was campy and just horrible. The Chloe Moretz Carrie was fucking great!

  • roy

    you have my permission to die

  • AngelAito

    I don’t understand why so many people are hating on this. Remakes bring films to a new audience as well as letting fans revisit things they’ve enjoyed before in a different way.
    I had never seen the original one before and got brought to see the remake, though I wasn’t to interested in it. I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I think more people should give it a chance. I thought the acting was good and the characters well played out. Bringing in the current tech helped make the issues deeper, with cyber bulling and such, and I thought it added a lot. I was on the edge of my seat watching this movie when I had been sure I wouldn’t like it.
    Upon coming home from the theater, I was curious about the original once, which again, I had never seen before. So I found it and watched it, and after seeing the remake, was very disappointing. I understand its a classic and it will always have its die hard fans, but I did not find it enjoyable at all. And I am not judging it on just being an older movie, I’ve watched plenty of old movies I loved, but this was dull and flat and the scenes seemed random and placed together oddly, the acting was terrible and there was so much that had me wondering if this was really the movie because I was laughing at how ridiculous it all was. I tried to give it a chance and watched it all the way through but I just couldn’t take it seriously, it was so bad.
    If you enjoy the original, good for you, I’m not saying you are wrong, but before you put the remake down, just remember that it appeals to a different audience while delivering the same story.
    I personally would recommend the remake.