This Review is by no means a Plagiarised Work as it was Originally Written for Neon Maniacs by myself
Light your torches and grab your Pitchforks. Hollywood is once again remaking its past with yet another retelling of Stephen King’s classic tale of High School Terror Carrie. With three adaptations already in the ether - including the classic 1976 film Directed by Brian DePalma - it’s hard not to ponder the question of why bother remaking it at all? Unfortunately, that is the million-dollar question for which Director Kimberly Pierce cannot justify with an answer.
A painfully shy teenage girl outcast and bullied without mercy by her peers is Carrie White. One day, while showering after Gym Class, Carrie has her very first menstrual period. Oblivious to the fact, she breaks into hysterics believing she is bleeding to death. In her moment of hysteria, her unsympathetic classmates further humiliate her by throwing unused tampons at her.
Domestic life isn’t much better for Carrie as her overbearing mother routinely preaches the word of god down upon her. Frequently locking Carrie in a dark damp closet as routine punishment. Such pressure in life leaves Carrie dangling on the brink of insanity. Helping to offset the pain, Carrie discovers an ace up her sleeve thanks to an uncanny telekinetic ability for which she possesses. Meanwhile, Carrie’s tormenters seek to further humiliate her on the eve of prom. One ill-timed prank leaves a distressed and humiliated Carrie to reap a destructive blaze of vengeance.
The titular role has been passed down from a natural otherworldly Sissy Spacek to Chloe Grace Moretz of Kick-Ass fame. Unfortunately, Moretz has been terribly miscast. Moretz naturally exudes a self-assured confidence in her own acting ability. That same confidence is the exact fibre for which Carrie should lack. The role of Carrie requires an actress to bring conveyance of battered vulnerability. As it is loosely described in the book, she is the ugly duckling turned beautiful swan type.
Moretz is blossoming into a fine young woman. In an attempt to downplay her natural beauty: Moretz sports a pale complexion, bags under her eyes, unkempt hair and a loose fitting tomboy wardrobe, yet even under this bare minimum of alteration her natural beauty still radiates. It ultimately denies the film of its powerful moment where the Ugly Duckling turns into the Beautiful Swan. Meanwhile, the screenplay gives Chloe little to work with in terms of building a persona. Chloe’s performance boils down to hunching her shoulders and constantly looking wounded. Despite her best efforts, Moretz doesn’t quite live up to what is expected of the role.
Despite initial claims that this version would be a brand new take on Stephen King’s sporadic source material; the screenplay manages to invoke a beat for beat familiarity to DePalma’s original film. Lawrence D. Cohen’s screenplay does attempt to alter events just a little. His screenplay modernizes the bullying, by throwing in a notion of Cyber Bullying courtesy of a humiliating viral video. The depiction of Carrie’s mother has also been altered; played by an under utilized Julianne Moore. Carrie’s mother shows signs of Schizophrenia as she frequently cuts herself in the name of god, but her self-mutilation is a moot point designed only to remind of her mental incapacities. On paper, these new additions could have made for a welcome change of pace, but in execution they are nothing more then a means to an end.
The biggest departure it takes is the way in which D. Cohen’s screenplay treats the telekinetic abilities. What DePalma’s version achieved so wonderfully well was to encapsulate that sense of unbridled teenage rage at its most fragile. DePalma presented the concluding tragedy as an involuntary and spontaneous combustion of manifested rage. It was a metaphor for puberty at its most fragile and uncontrolled. The imparting moral was simple; cruel torment lashed out without thought of ramifications could potentially face disastrous uncalled for consequences. A point, which is still entirely relevant to this date if you factor in countless school related tragedies of the past few years.
D. Cohen’s screenplay opts for something a little different, by employing the telekinesis as a form of empowerment. Carrie’s abilities serve as a major driving force throughout the film. Director Kimberly Pierce spends a fair chunk of time observing Carrie as she harnesses her newfound abilities for her own benefit. As Carrie learns how to manipulate her surroundings, it’s evident that she takes joy in this newfound power. The wrath of vengeance is now entirely manipulated by her free will. As such, it simplifies the moral a little. The moral is now reduced to saying ‘the evil will pay for their wicked sins while the wholesome will be spared with mercy’. It downplays the sense of tragedy as it lends this version of Carrie a sociopathic edge at the reduced cost of some empathy.
Director Kimberly Pierce’s visual eye is appropriately glossy yet not entirely unfamiliar. She is not above paying homage to the original film as she borrows familiar shot compositions while adding a few of her own flourishes. Including an excellent use of slow motion as pig’s blood levitates from Carrie’s being. Thanks to modern day technology the scale of Carrie’s wrath is bigger and better then ever before. Pierce does an amiable job in staging an appropriate level of suspense and thrills needed for such a pay off, but still it’s no match for the Split Screen techniques employed in the original film.
Despite its efforts, this new version of Carrie never elevates above thoroughly unremarkable. It’s a sanitized version designed for the same audience that watches the CW Network. It is far too content to rehash all of the same old beats while never truly finding a voice of its own. Supposing you’re of the millennial generation and you refuse to watch films made before your time, then this glossier version may appeal to you. For the rest of us, well it’s a case of been there and done all of that long before.
THE VERDICT: ** out of *****