Curious that a house in a densely populated suburban neighbourhood should be collapsing spontaneously in an earthquake of telekinetic power and not a single inquisitive neighbour should step out onto their lawn to investigate the commotion. I see living room lights on. Cars parked in the driveways. People are there. And yet there’s no one.
I think no one in this neighbourhood cares much about what goes on around them. I wouldn’t either if I were them. They know, perhaps instinctively, that they are living in a movie remake, and that their remake is not of the same standard as its 1976 original. Carrie White and her deranged mother, Margaret, are best left to their own devices. Even if those devices kill them.
This 2013 reimagining of Stephen King’s classic horror novel is directed by Kimberly Peirce, whose female instinct and modesty is apparent in the way she protects the female body from indecent exposure but not from grotesque violence. There is a shot of windshield glass jutting out from the lead antagonist’s face, and yet the early locker room scene — in which all of the girls in the original film were in different states of undress (including fully nude) — is filmed as if the camera is operated by a 12-year old boy. It’s interesting how perspective changes with the director, and with the times.
I recently reviewed Brian De Palma’s Carrie, and I was quite in favour of it. It had the brooding silence of a horror movie, as if it wanted more than anything to lull its viewers into a false state of calm and then shock them into submission with its third act. It also had Sissy Spacek, who exuded awkwardness and discomfort without so much as having to lift an eyebrow. We got the sense that everything she did with her special powers was done out of fear. The Carrie in this movie is in full control of her powers. This doesn’t make her a tragic hero; it makes her a full-fledged villain. When Sue Snell turns up at her house at the end, we’re wondering why the cops didn’t reach there first.
There’s also a problem with the casting of Chloë Grace Moretz. She is a fine actor, proven very deftly in her role as Hit Girl from the Kick-Ass movies. But here, as Carrie White, she is too likeable. Too pretty perhaps. Spacek is by no means an unattractive lady, but her unique features (large eyes, gaunt cheeks) hide a very shy interior. She is pretty not on the surface, but underneath, and the role of Carrie requires this sort of visual trickery to work. She is the outcast. Moretz looks more like vice-captain of the cheerleading squad.
And this kind of misrepresentation pervades the rest of the cast. Carrie’s mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore), a wayward Christian fanatic in the original movie, seems more like a psychopath here. She’s prone to self-flagellation, and when she gets mad or upset, she uses various household objects against her head, including walls. Chris (Portia Doubleday), the antagonist, is a step away from being satan’s right-hand girl. She is not so much vengeful as she is evil. When Sue (Gabriella Wilde) asks her: “What has Carrie White ever done to you?”, she couldn’t have asked a more correct question. And then there’s the gym teacher whose name is as hard to pronounce as it is to spell. She is played by Judy Greer, and it is difficult to believe her character. She has the confidence of a detective and the charisma of a mouse. Somewhere in the middle she is meant to find herself, but she never does. And her fate in this remake is unjustified.
Everything in this movie is unjustified. There is too much CGI. Too many pretty faces and not enough emotion. I get the feeling that this version is more occupied with looks than it is with substance. It follows its namesake to a T, right up to the prom sequence. And then it flies off the rails and lands all over the place. Is Carrie White misunderstood or malicious? A subliminal frame in the DVD’s alternate ending suggests that maybe she is supernatural. The spawn of the devil. I’m not so sure anymore. My mind’s all kinds of messed up.
Best Moment | Carrie’s prom dance with Tommy Ross. It’s the only heartfelt moment in the entire film.
Worst Moment | Every time Carrie uses her power. What’s with all the hand gestures? She’s not Magneto.