Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde
Drawing heavily on the De Palma 1976 classic for its inspiration, rather than heading back to the wellspring of the Stephen King novel, this version of Carrie attempts to draw the classic tale of an outsider pushed to the limit into the 21st century.
Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a shy outcast young girl, raised by her devoutly Christian mother (Juliane Moore). Unaware of much of the outside world and the workings of her own body, Carrie is bullied by her classmates in an incident after gym. As one of her classmates, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) seeks to atone, another, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) seeks to avenge herself on Carrie for punishment she has earned. To further complicate matters, Carrie has discovered that she has the ability to manipulate objects with her mind. As prom approaches, the stage is set for a magical night to become drenched in blood.
Kimberley Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) does an admirable job of modernising this tale of school yard bullying and bloody revenge. The inclusion of technological advances in this scenario must be enough to give even the Master of Horror nightmares. Carrie’s shame is filmed by camera phone, uploaded to the internet, and replayed on the big screen at the prom. Similarly this technological advance have impacted on the special effects, allowing for a stronger visual representation of the young telekinetic’s powers. Objects now float about the place in full CG glory, giving Carrie a wide scope of powers even before the full extent of her wrath is unleashed.
Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass) is a surprisingly likeable Carrie, which works in her favour until the climax. Despite being abused and ill-educated, she seems much more level-headed and worldly than previous portrayals of the character. As such her actions at the prom seem more capricious and out of character, rather than tragically inevitable. Add to this a vamping mannerism affected during this key sequence, and it all just feels a little out of kilter. Julianne Moore (The Big Lebowski) is far creepier as her bible-thumping, self-flagellating, abusive mother, and Portia Doubleday’s (Youth In Revolt) portrayal of Chris as daddy’s little princess gone bad is a wonderfully villainous character.
Ultimately this is pure schlock horror, written large in comic book fashion. Houses ominously creak, crucifixes drip blood, and villains meet their comeuppance in gloriously gory fashion. Perhaps it is unfair to compare this to the De Palma version, but it does invite this in Peirce’s close mirroring of structure and occasional visual reference. As such it seems shallow by contrast, lacking that emotional resonance of the classic.
In all, a rollicking good popcorn bloodfest, but lacking the substance of the iconic classic. As such it seems a missed opportunity from a capable director.