Carrie remake fails to live up to cult horror classic

Originally posted on The Quad.

By Rachel Small

After a delay from March – for the sake of reshoots that caused most to make unfavorable judgments about director Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 remake of Stephen King’s first novel and Brian De Palma’s cult classic film – the new Carrie was released on Oct. 18, 2013.

Reviews of the movie have been mostly negative to average with most saying it pales in comparison to Brian De Palma’s original version, which became a cult favorite due to its ’70s era, campy theatrics and De Palma’s advanced ability to portray suspense.

De Palma’s version was able to create a scary, nail-biting story that was simultaneously funny due to its cheesy, dated direction and nonexistent special effects. Peirce’s Carrie is not only devoid of any humor, but lacks any artful suspense tactics, choosing instead to rely on its smorgasbord of CGI in the last 15 minutes of the movie, which is more boring than frightful.

Stephen King, when first learning there was to be a remake, remarked, “The real question is why, when the original [movie] was so good?” The Carrie remake was justified via the guise of the studios, MGM and Screen Gems, wanting to create an adaptation that more closely resembled King’s original novel. Right away, this does not seem like the real reason, because King’s novel –published in 1974 – takes place in the then-future 1979.

Peirce’s Carrie takes place in present day. The new rationale for the reboot changed to not only doing a version that was faithful to King’s novel but also adapting Carrie for an internet-savvy, CGI-capable world. Though, when watching the movie, audience members and fans of the book may note that 2013’s Carrie – played by popular actress, Chloe Grace Moretz – resembles the original film’s star (Sissy Spacek) who was an unconventionally pretty, thin, and blonde girl versus the novel version where Carrie was chubby, pimple-prone, and brunette.

Moretz, though a competent actress, fails to be convincing as a lonely, awkward outcast due to her prom queen looks that scream “well-adjusted” and rational arguments against her mother’s (Julianne Moore) zealot-tinged insanity. 2013’s Carrie is not brainwashed by her mother’s fantastical religious practices and instead wilts as an innocent wallflower who is unjustifiably shunned. Only a quick mention of Carrie’s own unusual behavior is brought up when school bully, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), and Carrie-sympathizer, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), have an argument in the gym about how Carrie deserves her torment, because Carrie and her mother have been telling everyone they are going to Hell since the sixth grade.

Aside from her disheveled hair, makeup-less face, and bland clothing, Moretz appears much prettier than the overdone and aged Doubleday and Wilde. While De Palma’s movie paid homage to Hitchcock classic Psycho with its chilling slasher sound effects, Peirce alludes to recent, C-rated horror films by choosing to cast actors and actresses in high school roles even though they look like they are in their thirties – this is especially noticeable with Moretz in the role of Carrie as she was fifteen at the time of shooting.

The whole movie drags until the next to last scene at the prom, which happens so quickly that it could be easy to miss or zone out during it. There is no element of suspense or discomfort like in 1976’s version where the bucket of blood falls just when you feel like you can’t take it anymore. After being drenched in blood, Moretz takes up the role of orchestra conductor as she flails her arms around, indicating where the CGI masters should fabricate turmoil. It is an awkward display and is supposedly where we are supposed to feel discomfort, though it comes in the form of secondhand embarrassment.

The Carrie reboot wasn’t a bad movie; it stayed true to the original almost scene to scene with some technology and extra scenes thrown around. However, it did not add anything to the Carrie legacy and recanted much of the superficial aspects of the well-known, high school revenge story. There is not much depth to this film, but it serves its purpose as a Halloween movie for teenagers who have not seen the original to go see on a Friday night.

Carrie is currently in theaters, but it might be wiser to wait until it comes out on Redbox or to watch the original on Netflix.

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