Film Review: Carrie (2013)

Carrie-Blu-Ray-coverSYNOPSIS:

A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.

REVIEW:

The Black Saint was around when Brian De Palma unleashed his startling and terrifying vision of Stephen King’s first big literary success, Carrie back in 1976. And I remember the distinct feeling of unease that permeated itself throughout the theater as the film unspooled. We were nervous, we were on edge, we were scared. In the years that followed, other directors have tried to resurrect the tale, some going so far as to reimagine it as a Broadway musical! But they all failed miserably and it’s with an extremely heavy heart that I have to report that director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) fails as well. Although not as miserably as the others have…

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The story of Carrie White and her telekinetic abilities is one that’s been ingrained into the minds of all who’ve read the original novel, there isn’t that much of it I need to recount here as screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa hems pretty close to the original script (By Lawrence D. Cohen, who gets script credit here as well). Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a sad, lonely & misunderstood teen who is constantly harangued by her fellow classmates and kept under lock & key at home by her religious nut of a mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore), who the whole town pretty much avoids. To make amends for participating in a particularly cruel prank played on Carrie early in the film, classmate Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) asks her boyfriend Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) to escort Carrie to the prom in her place and in doing so, he shows Carrie just about the only kindness that she gets in the entire film. But as in the original, Carrie’s dream evening is ruined by the vengeful Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) and using her newfound powers of telekinesis, Carrie enacts a horrible revenge on Chris and everyone who she feels has wronged her.

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What works in this needless remake is the relationship that Carrie has with her deranged mother, Margaret. There is a genuine love that comes through from Carrie to her mom & vice versa that, while a bit forced at times, feels true. Although the mother/daughter dynamic featured in the original was a bit more scornful than this one is there’s still a lot of repressed anger towards her mom that Carrie slowly releases as she discovers her new abilities and how to control them. And Margaret’s regret over allowing Carrie to live once she was born is something that she has no problem reminding her daughter of. There’s a sort of controlled fury between the two that’s palpable & simmering just under the surface of both their characters that makes their inevitable showdown something I was looking forward to. But…..

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The showdown that I got pales when compared to the original and that’s only part of what doesn’t work in Carrie. Moore is a excellent actress and when I first heard of her being cast I thought it was a good choice but upon watching the finished product I realized that she has nothing on Piper Laurie, who essayed the role of Margaret in the original film. Laurie earned a supporting Oscar nod for her completely unhinged portrayal of Carrie’s mother & she deserved it, She wasn’t just crazy, she was scary! Her eyes showed very little emotion but her body language & the delivery of her lines made Margaret one of the greatest anti villains ever to grace the screen. Moore is content to keep Margaret crazy and she does that well enough but she isn’t SCARY, not in the least. And her piss poor interpretation of a Margaret punishing herself when faced with what she perceives to be her “Failure” at raising Carrie properly had no emotional heft to it whatsoever.

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Moretz is one of the finest young actresses on the scene right now but I think she’s miscast here. Firstly she has none of the wide eyed innocence that Sissy Spacek did back in the original film. She does well with what she was directed to do I suppose but there’s no real pathos coming off of her interpretation, no sense of being as downtrodden & lonely as Spacek was. I could feel no pain coming from her portrayal and if nothing else, her inner pain is what makes Carrie so sad a character. I didn’t feel any great need to be sorry for her, not as much as I did for Spacek in the same role anyway. Spacek was nominated for Best Actress Oscar back in 76′ because her performance was so achingly heartfelt & genuine. The performance Moretz gives is a good one but hardly memorable when compared to the one Spacek gave. All the supporting performances are good enough but Doubleday is especially nasty as Carrie’s nemesis, Chris. She does a great job in taking an already unlikable character and making her even more unlikable. There was a genuine distaste in my mouth whenever she came onscreen and her inevitable end (while unremarkable) still felt good to watch. Judy Greer also does some commendable work as gym teacher Ms. Desjardin, who in one of the bigger changes from the original script is spared by Carrie at the end of the film.

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The big prom scene is certainly unafraid to spread around the blood but it feels forced & again, not scary at all. Even the pig’s blood dumped on Carrie’s head looks like it’s just candy apple sweet syrup. In the original film, the blood looked like blood and helped sell that part of the film. Her, it’s just a bucket full of Karo syrup with some red food dye added to it. Pathetic. Moretz decided to wave her arms around as if they were tied to strings and under a puppeteer’s control. She looked like a fake blood encrusted belly dancer for a few minutes there. And while the big scene is handled well, it feels rote & has none of the sheer terror the first one had.

The script tries to update the proceedings by introducing the internet & viral videos to the film but not enough time is spent on exploring the possibilities that they might have brought to the table. Instead the (Good) idea of having a video featuring Carrie being harangued being downloaded to the internet and watched by thousands is touched on for a few minutes in the beginning of the film and then rammed down our throats near the end of it with no mind paid to it in the middle of the film. I think it would’ve been a lot more effective if the effect the video going viral had on Carrie played a bigger part in the film. It certainly wouldn’t have hurt to try as Carrie stays mundane for the first 3/4 of its running time and doesn’t hit any kind of stride until the big prom scene, which is a big problem because it gets boring fairly quickly. The characters are the same but there’s a lifelessness here, a casual shrug of the shoulders that the film makers seem to be making towards the audience. I know I’ve said this before about other remakes in the past (EVIL DEAD…I’m talking to you!) but it happens here as well, Carrie has no heart, no soul. It just sits there looking pretty and teasing us to wait for the big final scene and pulling the rug out from under us once we reach that point.

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And as to that final scene in the film? Well it’s different from the original but stupid and unsatisfying with no shocking twist to make you jump out of your seat like the original made you do the first time you saw it. In what might be the scariest part of the film, the ending here seems to be directed towards a possible sequel and as unnecessary as this remake is, a sequel would be a complete and utter waste of theater screens worldwide.

Another glaring error is the film’s score. Marco Beltrami’s score here sounds very standard and rushed. In the original film, Pino Donaggio really created a score that highlighted the action on screen. Beltrami’s score is happy just playing in the background, it doesn’t help to highlight some of the feelings of what’s going on at the prom, or in Carrie’s life either. It’s soulless and heartless, strictly by the numbers.

In the end, Carrie is a below average shocker that if not for some excessive bloodshed could’ve gotten away with a PG-13 rating and been right at home on the SYFY channel. Another dumb remake for the unsuspecting among us who haven’t seen the original film and think this is gonna be something special. Well…it ain’t. Some good performances, a few interesting scenes of carnage and stuff flying around aren’t enough to make this film anything more than blah. See it if you must but if you’re familiar with the original film and think you’re gonna get more of the same with this one, then prepare to be sorely disappointed….

Carrie – 1.5 out of 5 shrouds.

Carrie (2013) is now available on blu-ray per Sony Entertainment

Carrie (2013)

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7 Responses to Film Review: Carrie (2013)

  1. i just happened to read your thoughts on carrie ( 2013) and it baffles me as to why a person would spend so much time on spewing out negative thoughts, and sharing them with whoever has the displeasure of reading them. who cares if the film wasn’t good, i saw it last night, and i was entertained. nobody expects it to be as good as the original, so there is no need to compare it to the 1976 version. remakes are never as good as their originals, everybody knows that, and all you did here was compare it part for part with the original carrie, which was dumb, things were made differently back then, performers were of a different caliber. bottom line is if you didn’t like the remake keep your negative comments to yourself, some of us dont walk into a theater and expect to see a masterpiece, but just to escape and be entertained. have a splendid day!

    • The Black Saint AKA Santos Ellin Jr says:

      Christopher,

      While I’m sincerely happy you enjoyed watching the “Carrie”remake, I have to wonder why you’d use the term “Dumb” in reference to my comparing it to the original. You might be the only person who thinks that comparisons between the two shouldn’t be made. When a film (any film) is remade (Or ‘Re-Imagined’ as Hollywood likes to call it nowadays), it sets itself up to be compared to the original. Which is why I bemoan most remakes because in my opinion, to just ape the original without bringing something new to the mix is just lazy, boring film making.

      While this particular remake is decent enough, it does absolutely nothing to either update or enhance the story told in the original film. It’s content to basically redo the original film nearly scene for scene. And while that might work for those among us who haven’t seen the original, it doesn’t who hold De Palma’s film in high regard (like me). Why bother to waste the time, talent & money only to prove that you don’t have any new ideas to add to the mix?

      My job here at HNN is to watch & review films. And then give my honest opinion about them. It sounds like you want me to effuse over something I didn’t like or in other words…lie. This my friend, ain’t happening.

      I have no problem whatsoever with someone disagreeing with me. Debate is essential in situations like this & all opinions are welcome here but to say stuff like “Who cares if the film wasn’t good” is quite frankly a pretty stupid thing to say. There are OODLES of people who care and as ticket prices aren’t exactly cheap nowadays, people might be hesitant to throw away anywhere from $10-14 on a ticket to a movie they aren’t gonna enjoy. And forgive me but I disagree with you when you say that “Nobody expects it to be as good as the original”. Why wouldn’t I expect it to be as good as the original? Why wouldn’t you? Did you expect a near shot for shot remake of the original with little to no innovation to update it for a new generation? I suspect you didn’t. An opportunity was wasted here and I’m gonna call shenanigans when I see em’. The producers had the talent & the money to update “Carrie” and instead chose to play it safe. That’s just cheap, denigrating & bad film making.

      I would NEVER tell someone not to see a movie, that’s not what this is all about. I encourage everyone reading to see whatever film we’re talking about. I support the horror genre wholeheartedly and always will. If people don’t see movies like “Carrie” then studios won’t make them. I don’t want that to happen.

      But I’m always gonna call em’ as I see em’. I thought “Carrie” was pretty boring & rote, which stunned me since it hems so closely to the original film which wasn’t boring in the least. It’s competently made & has some good performances but, once again, if you aren’t doing anything different with it…why bother? Better to spend a few thousand dollars and encourage people to see the original film to see how it should be done.

      As I said a few paragraphs back, I’m really happy you enjoyed it. I’m sure lots of people did but I wasn’t one of them & I’m sure there are lots of people who didn’t enjoy it either. I don’t begrudge them their opinions nor do I begrudge you yours. If we all agreed on everything life would be kinda boring…don’t you think?

      I hope my opinion doesn’t keep you from HNN! We strive to bring everyone the best in horror/sci-fi news & reviews. It’s people like you who keep us going and I really thank you for the time you took to voice your opinion here. Just remember, we aren’t gonna agree all of the time.

      Best,

      The Black Saint AKA Santos Ellin Jr

      • SteelScissorsInYourHead says:

        I can’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to think a remake shouldn’t be compared and contrasted to what came before. In what other light could someone possibly review it?

        I just watched this pathetic abortion of a film and I think this review was infinitely too kind. I’d rank this as the second worst horror remake of all time (nothing is worse than The Hitcher remake), possibly the 3rd worst as it ties the last Nightmare on Elm Street.

        The acting didn’t wok because it’s patently obvious the director is clueless as to how the story could be told. Equally damning is the fact that she was technically inept, poor editing, crappy cinematography… This is the work of a woman forced into a role she doesn’t understand on any level whatsoever. If this pathetic cow is allowed to direct another film I hope I never have the misfortune to see it.

        Everyone involved with this piece of sheet should take a solid shot to the metaphorical career balls. 0 out of 10. Crap that gets worse as the running time drags on.

  2. Joe says:

    From what i heard bout the movie before it was released it wasn’t supposed to be exactly like the original it was supposed to follow the “BOOK”. But when i watched it they basically upgraded the whole thing to match the modern age but basically kept it the same.The truth is all 3 seperate versions of the “Carrie” movie didn’t follow the story exactly Carrie White was not just supposed to be a “Loner” she was supposed to be that ugly kid in class that everyone made fun of that would turn around and forgive me for bringing this into the convo but basically go Colembine (sorry if spelled wrong) on the people who treated her the worst. Spacek wasn’t an ugly girl when the original came out the girl who played in the second remake (which led into “Rage Carrie 2) wasn’t an ugly homely girl and they did the same for this one. I understand that you want to point out that scene for scene wasn’t as good as the original but the thing is it wasn’t supposed to be like the original. It was supposed to do what the directors and writers have failed to do over the years……it was “supposed” to follow the original story. Stephen King has been known for some really scarey and gorey stories and thats why they planned on remaking a lot of his old movies to follow the books more closely they want to bring out the true horror that is King’s work. Now I liked the movie don’t get me wrong i like all of Stephen King’s work. I just hope they pay more attention with the next one that gets remade. The best way they can do that would be to get King’s full description of the story and follow it to a T. If they don’t they’ll have critics (no offense) who will sit and complain bout it (like i said no offense) instead of giving a review that talks bout the good in the movie instead of camparing it to the original every chance they get.

  3. devil says:

    quite nicely done ☺

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