Carrie is a fine horror film, just no competition to original
Carrie has long since been regarded as one of the finest adaptations of Stephen King’s long catalogue of works to grace the silver screen. Aside from being the film to launch Sissy Spacek’s career, it captured audiences for its legitimate terrifying scenes, and was seemingly ahead of the curve of the horror genre. So it is understandable that when it was announced that Brian De Palma’s classic was to be remade in the fall of 2013, there were a few reservations. Kimberly Peirce, who was at the helm of well-received dramas Boys Don Cry and Stop-Loss, was charged with the unenviable task of revamping a film that has gone down as a staple of the genre.
The roles of Carrie White and her religious zealot mother Margaret White, which were done so admirably in Oscar nominated performance’s by Spacek and Piper Laurie, were to be filled by upstart actress Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Hugo) and Oscar nominated Julianne Moore (The Kids are all Right, The Hours). On paper at least, the project seemed promising, and with talks that the remake was being geared as a close accompaniment to the orignal, many in horror circles had moderate to high hopes for this modern day retelling of an icon.
The story, for those who may have missed it in the past thirty six years, involves young Carrie White, bullied and ostracized by her schoolmates and sheltered by her religious fanatic mother. When she is the target of a heartless trick at her high school prom, Carrie unleashes a wife of terror through her telekinetic power, finally snapping after years of being pushed to the breaking point.
First off, the horror genre, as I have stated in the past, has been muddled at best in the past decade, convoluted by overused tropes and cliches. So going into this, I wasn’t expecting a masterpiece akin to the original, I expected more of the same middle-of-the-pack horror that has been cranked out in the past few years.
Moretz did an admirable job filling the gaping hole of Carrie left by Sissy Spacek. I’m not sure anyone could seem as pitiful and tragic looking as she did in the 1976 version, but Moretz did well with what she was given, bringing an added layer of sympathy to a timeless character. The other roles, of the good natured school teacher, or vile students, were more or less just filler, and nothing at all to write home about. The real story was Moore’s performance as Margaret. As a young boy, watching Piper Laurie chant religious hymns and stare ominously with her flowing robes was enough to give me nightmares. So I was pleasantly surprised that Moore inserted herself well into the role, acting as haunting and misguided as her predecessor.
My gripe with the film, and this may be petty, is that it offers nothing fresh, nothing new, nothing of a wow-factor. It’s a fine film, and maybe if it was a stand alone piece than it would be more than that, but to stack up against a powerhouse as the original Carrie is to bring something large to the table, and while Peirce’s version is fine, thats all it is. My argument with the horror genre today, is most everything that draws close to ‘great’, has already been done, so writers and directors need to really brainstorm and push the envelope if they desire a longterm player.