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CARRIE remake review… the best of the remakes

Posted on November 4th, 2013
Posted on November 4th, 2013

by Coop Cooper

Based on the bestselling book by Stephen King, Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a shy, sensitive high school girl who is mercilessly picked on by the other students.  After a particularly cruel moment where Carrie is bullied in the gym shower, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) a popular girl who took part in the bullying becomes overcome with guilt and tries to find a way to make amends.  She convinces her goodhearted jock boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) to ask Carrie to the prom to give the meek, tormented girl a confidence boost.  Carrie accepts but along with puberty, she has developed a frightening power, the emergence of which her psychotically religious mother (Julienne Moore) has been dreading since Carrie’s birth.  When the school’s meanest girl plans a humiliating prank on Carrie at the prom, Carrie is pushed too far causing her powers to erupt with deadly results.

This isn’t the first “Carrie” remake.  The 1976 film directed by Brian De Palma was finally given a sequel/remake in 1999 called “The Rage: Carrie 2” which focused on a goth cousin of Carrie White who happens to go through the same tragic bullying.  While this 2013 remake is predictably better, “The Rage” somehow manages to star a sympathetic and talented lead (Emily Bergl) and make all of the teens even more vile villains than the original, resulting in a watchable sequel even though it retreads the material.  Much worse is the 2002 made-for-TV remake, featuring substandard special effects and an actress far too old to play the title character.  If you must see one “Carrie” remake, the new 2013 version is it.

Moretz is easily one of the best child actors of the last decade and would’ve been a great choice for this role if she wasn’t so naturally confident.  Carrie White is supposed to be extremely awkward and seeing her played by Hit Girl from the “Kick Ass” movies didn’t ring true.  But in the end, her casting pays off.  Watching her covered in blood, going on a telekinetic rampage was nearly as frightening and satisfying as seeing Sissy Spacek do it in the 1970’s.

Julienne Moore; however, is an inspired casting choice and plays the role of Carrie’s mother with a quiet menace instead of the scary, yet over-the-top performance of Piper Laurie in the original.  Once I saw her in the role, I knew she was the only one I wanted to see play the part.

With bullying becoming an increasingly sore subject in the news, “Carrie” feels more relevant today than ever.  The filmmakers shrewdly included a bit of cyber-bullying into this remake which heightened the impact of the story considering so many real-life teens have either killed or committed suicide over such a thing.  This story is the supernatural equivalent to Columbine and Stephen King was nearly prophetic when he penned it in the 1970’s.  Ironically, another one of King’s early stories, “Rage”, about a teen taking his schoolmates hostage, has been forced out of print by King himself because of its eerie similarities to Columbine and other school shootings across the nation.

The film is no improvement on the 1976 original, but since it’s the best of the previous “Carrie” remakes, I hope it gets some youngsters interested in the source material and original film.  The ending, even in this version, is shocking even if it is hammed up in the final couple of shots (what foolish studio exec thought the heavy metal music over the end credits was a good idea?).  It’s the right mixture of sad and terrifying, akin to seeing Frankenstein’s Monster transform from sympathetic to murderous.  This remake doesn’t need a sequel – please no more remakes either – and I’d be happy if Hollywood would let Carrie White rest in peace from now on.

Rating:  3 out of 5 stars

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