1974’s Carrie is the first published novel of horror king Stephen King. Its 1976 Brian De Palma adaptation, starring Sissy Spacek in an Oscar-nominated role, is generally considered to be a landmark horror film, albeit dated. Chloë Grace Moretz stars in the title role in this remake directed by Kimberly Pierce. I use the term ‘remake’ rather than ‘adaptation’ because while there are a few new ideas present from the novel, this movie draws heavily from the original film. That said, a remake should be viewed as a singular experience, not as a comparison; while I may mention the original as a reference point, I’m judging this movie on its own merits.
I don’t think Chloë Grace Moretz was right for her role. Carrie is bullied extensively by her peers, and in this version it’s hard to understand why. We’re supposed to believe that Carrie is generally considered unattractive, but Moretz is a very photogenic actress. Not much is done to alter her appearance, and so you’re just left confused at why everyone gets so much pleasure out of tormenting her. This coupled with Moretz’s mediocre performance take you out of the film. She falls back on a nervous/pouty facial expression for the majority of the movie. When it comes time for the famous prom scene, Moretz just goes to an angry action star face, rather than showing real emotion.
The real star of this remake is Julianne Moore. As Carrie’s mother, she gives a frightening take on the religious zealot. I was in an awkward position of both wishing for more of her, because of the quality of her performance, and less of her, because of the intentional amount of aggravation you feel about her character. I did feel emotion towards her performance though, which is more than I can say about many of the other characters in this film. Most of the performances are unfortunately forgettable. They simply lack any dimension whatsoever. Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell play malicious for the sake of malicious as the couple scheming against Carrie (Speaking of Alex Russell, if you haven’t seen Chronicle (2012), watch it immediately. It has a similar story to Carrie but is also uniquely inspired.).
There’s nothing boring or painful to watch in this film, but it’s similarly devoid of any passion or excitement. Although Carrie is rated R, this is not used to the film’s benefit. A PG-13 cutting of this film would be very similar to the theatrical cutting. The prom scene was especially disappointing. The editing and reliance on CGI rather than practical effects make this scene more reminiscent of an action movie, rather than horror. The trauma of the event is very much toned down. This was likely to avoid controversy about violence in schools, though I feel like that argument is a bit counterintuitive. Overall, there isn’t much that’s inherently bad about this film, but there just isn’t a lot to love. 5/10.