Although I’m probably the only horror movie buff who has not seen the original 1976 version of Carrie, it did give me a certain edge and a set of fresh eyes when I went to review this film. I actively avoided the original adaption of Stephen King’s novel to ensure I could give the 21st century remake an honest critique.
Remaking any cult classic is a daunting challenge that few before have done successfully, especially when it was also an adaptation of a book. With the exception of Lord of the Rings, I can’t think of many books to film transitions that have worked to the satisfaction of the reader or view. Kimberly Peirce tackled this challenge head on however, and delivered a solid sinister film in Carrie.
Carrie White is a senior in her last few months of high school. With an overbearing and extremely religious mother, Carrie has been the victim of scrutiny, teasing and bullying throughout her time in school. However, there is more to this cliché outcast than meets the eye. After one of her gym classes, Carrie unknowingly experiences her first menstrual period. Noticing the blood and pain in her abdomen, she mistakenly assumes that she is bleeding the death. Crying out from the showers to her classmates, begging and screaming for help, Carrie receives nothing but teasing and mocking in return. As her classmates continue to laugh and taunt her, they also record the entire incident on their iPhones. Carrie’s only aid in this moment and throughout the film comes from her gym teacher, Ms. Desjardin, played by Judy Greer.
After the incident in the showers, Carrie’s mother is called to collect her from school and as she berates her daughter publicly, we get our first sense of Margaret White’s deep seeded religious roots. Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Margaret White is truly irking and unsettling to watch. She drags her daughter kicking and screaming into a closet, bolting the door behind her and insisting she pray for her sins. Carrie’s extreme emotional distress and physical frustration amalgamate into the first experience of her telekinetic abilities as she breaks through the hardwood door and startles her mother with the power of her mind. The events that unfold as she further develops these powers lead to increasingly more disastrous and disturbing consequences.
Carrie is a decent attempt at a remake. The incredible acting skills of Chloe Moretz cannot be denied as she fully immerses herself in the character and captures the essence of what it is to be young and tortured. Peirce’s inclusion of the iPhone and video recording of Carrie’s traumatic experience is a clever addition and clear attempt at modernising an older story whilst trying to highlight the dangers of cyber-bullying that plagues the youth of today. However, Peirce’s remake does fall a little flat. The entire film builds up to one event that can’t help but seem a little anti-climactic. Despite the great performances from all the cast and eerie atmosphere throughout, the scares are few and far between. While it is enjoyable watch, Carrie certainly won’t have you clutching your bed sheets for cover on a cold winter’s night any time soon.