While I’m not really sure the classic “horror” film Carrie (starring Sissy Spacek) needed a remake, Director Kimberly Peirce’s version of Carrie, originally written by Stephen King, gives the story a modern edge, which is meant to speak to a whole new generation of audiences. After all, with the topic of bullying so rampant in today’s headlines, it seems the perfect time to reintroduce the story of a bullied girl that uses her telekinetic powers for revenge!
On that note, anyone familiar with the Carrie storyline knows that at times, the film is really hard to watch; not due to any scariness or brutal violence but because a lot of the story revolves around a young girl, Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz), getting mercilessly bullied in school. Carrie comes from an ultra-religious household. Her mom (Julianne Moore) is a zealot, who believes everything around her is a sin so she must shelter/protect her only daughter from being corrupted. This fanaticism leads to pretty crazy behavior, including self-mutilation and locking her daughter in a closet full of religious paraphernalia so she can pray for forgiveness.
Because of her mother’s erratic behavior, Carrie is not like the other girls her age. She doesn’t dress in contemporary clothing, doesn’t carry a cell phone, and most importantly, is not aware of the changes her body will undergo during puberty. Basically, she’s an outcast, a moving target in today’s bully-filled high school environment. When she starts her period in the shower after gym class, Carrie is terrified that she is dying so she begs her classmates for help. The girls realize Carrie just started her period, however, instead of helping her deal with the situation, they take it upon themselves to embarrass her. They throw tampons at her and call her names, all while videotaping the entire situation for YouTube, of course. When the girls are punished for their cruelty and one is unable to go to Prom, the abuse towards Carrie really begins to spiral out of control… that is, until she decides to take matters into her own hands.
In this version of Carrie, I really appreciate that Peirce took the time to relate an almost forty-year-old story to the reality of today’s bullying problem. Like in the original film, Peirce highlights Carrie’s distinct social message along with the entertaining revenge story. However, the bullying in Carrie (2013) is taken to an even more malicious level now that the “villains” are equipped with internet-ready smart phones, whose cameras are waiting to capture any YouTube-worthy moments. The bullies are able to torment Carrie throughout the halls of the high school and through the worldwide reach of the internet; there is no escape from their viciousness.
This ramped up bullying makes the character of Carrie even more sympathetic than she was in the original film. Although at first, it was hard to see the normally outgoing Moretz as a friendless, “average” girl, her incredible acting skills allowed her to make this performance her own. In fact, dare I say, at times, I found myself able to relate to Moretz’s characterization of Carrie a lot more than I did Spacek. After all, apart from the updated bullying aspect of the film, which makes Carrie’s embarrassment a lot more horrific, Moretz is the same age as the character; Spacek was a 26-year-old woman playing a high-school kid. As always, Julianne Moore is phenomenal as Carrie’s mother, a role Piper Laurie made famous. Moore throws herself into the role, easily hiding her endearing qualities to make way for the psychoticness. If there wasn’t an original Carrie to make comparisons to, Moore and Moretz would certainly be receiving more deserved attention for their performances.
Though you may be nervous to see this Carrie remake on the big screen again, it is actually a great film that really holds up against the original. It’s always nice when a remake pays respect to its predecessor, while also being entertaining in its own right. Hopefully this modernized version of the story will create enough thought and debate amongst its new generation of audiences that the film will become a social statement as much as it is a horror film.
My Review: B/B+