I have been a lifelong Stephen King fan, and the first book of his I ever read was Carrie. Carrie is like a warped version of "Cinderella" that only Stephen King could manufacture. About a young girl who gets bullied in high school then has to go home to constant repenting with her overly-religious mother. When Carrie gets asked to her senior prom, her mother immediately declines, calling it sin. She goes anyway, and all is well until she gets a horrific prank performed on her. Only then does she let her true colors show...and..well...lets just say she lets the bitches have it!
The book was superb and the 1976 movie starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie was equally superb, easily one of the best King-adaptations ever imagined. If you read my Weekly Top Ten last week, then you know how much Spacek's Carrie effected me. It left an everlasting sensation that perhaps not everything needs to be remade, some gold needs to be left alone and not traded or bought, it needs to remain at Fort Knox.
Overall, the 2013 remake of "Carrie" is okay. Not good, not bad, just okay. Its too bad because in the right hands, this could be magnificent. Immediately as the film begins, something is off. From the opening scene at gym class to the end where Sue Snell visits a grave, everything feels like 1976. It seems this remake only wanted to copy Brian De Palma's legendary version of the story instead of standing on its own two feet. I know there are classic moments from the book and I understand how well De Palma adapted this story. But bullying has changed a lot since the 1970's. There are moments in this remake where smartphones and Youtube are used for bullying purposes, but its not enough. If you are setting this movie in 2013, then the story had to reflect on Carrie White living in 2013, not 1976. Bullying has come a long way, and the filmmakers didn't showcase that at all. This doesn't feel like a updated version of the story, just a story that wants to mimic the Sissy Spacek movie.
Another big problem is Chloe Moretz as Carrie White. I think Moretz is a talented actress, but she just doesn't work as Carrie. Before the movie began, I felt Moretz's overall filmography would be distracting. When Carrie starts destroying prom night, I have expected Carrie to start spitting out the most vulgar of profanity at the bullies. For being so talented, Moretz makes Carrie rather one-dimensional. Plus, I just don't buy Moretz as a high school student, she still looks like the 12-year-old Hit-Girl from "Kick-Ass." The bullies in Carrie's life are just plain cartoony. If I were still in high school, I wouldn't be intimated by these overblown Hollister models.
There is still some good stuff though. Nothing could keep Julianne Moore from being perfect to play Carrie's mother. Moore creates a fascinating portrayal of a creepy, religious mother without turning her into a cartoon. Not really an easy thing to do, but Moore handles it with grace and joy. Carrie's mother has quite a few ticks that made me cringe in my seat, and Moore handled it all incredibly well. Judy Greer played Mrs. Desjardin, Carrie's gym teacher who is always very sympathetic toward Carrie. Greer is a charming, adorable actress and she brings all of that to create a wonderful character. The cinematography and special effects are well-staged, but all of that is really window dressing after all.
In the end, there are just too many dissenters which work against this remake. The biggest problem with a lot of films in 2013 is that they do not want to live up to their ambitions, some don't even want to try. "Carrie" definitely suffers from that. This remake doesn't want to have its own voice, its own convictions, its own style. It only wants to be like De Palma's 1976 movie. But a 1976 Carrie in a 2013 landscape does not work thematically. I was reminded of the 1998 remake of Psycho (remake as in they literally shot the same movie frame-per-frame, I shit you not.), this remake is anything but original. Also, if you don't believe in the main protagonist as well as roughly 80% of the antagonists, then something is very wrong.
FINAL GRADE: C