Horrendously bad casting destroyed whatever chance it had. Carrie is the painfully awkward remake of the classic 1976 film, which was also Stephen King’s great 1974 debut novel. It is almost tasteful for a horror film, heavy-handed in its empathy for the pained loner teenager, which is a crushing impediment to achieving any great pitch of horror and hysteria. Kimberly Peirce is a more than competent director, but it’s as if she saw the original and decided to pad every scene out with a persistent moralistic point of view. High school cruelty is underlined in a way that makes us all too aware that it is just wrong (the original Carrie endured such casual abuse that the indifference was what was horrifying). Chloe Grace Moretz (“Hugo”) and Julianne Moore (“Chloe”) play the fatalistic girl and mother, neither of them adequate to fill Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie’s shoes.
Moretz, with her pretty, chubby cheekbones, is too self-assured and confident to know how to play a socially withdrawn and terrified girl like Carrie White. And Moore is too compassionate and dialed down an actress – as wonderful as she is – to play Margaret White. She is simply not crazy enough, and Carrie doesn’t have enough reason to feel threatened by her own mother (I felt like Carrie ran the house this time). In order for anybody to top Laurie from the original, Peirce or somebody involved with pre-production needed to make a really outrageous casting choice to play this crazed mom. I can’t help myself from mentioning that calm, chirpy bird of an actress Judy Greer, too, is way out of her element as an ass-kicking physical education teacher.
Here we are decades after the original, and the feeble remake goes for more special effects but with less than effective camera angles in the prom apocalypse spectacular. And instead of trying to be more faithful to King’s own conclusion, it just copies the original but with shabbier results, such as with the demolishment of her own house. I couldn’t have been more annoyed, but at least I have a greater appreciation than ever for Brian DePalma’s 1976 masterpiece. Carrie, the tragic girl whose shyness was suffocating to the point of suicide, is simply a loser this time who wreaks havoc on her high school class.
100 Minutes. Rated R.
HORROR / MATURE TEENS / FRIDAY NIGHT SCREAMFEST