You’ve got red on you.

Theatrical Release Date: 10/18/2013
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell, Judy Greer, Zoë Belkin, Ansel Elgort
Rated: R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content.
Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes


Why can’t I just have a normal prom?

The image of Carrie standing onstage, drenched in blood and quivering with rage, is an iconic one. With that image a part of public consciousness, it is impossible to see Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Carrie without comparing it to the original.

Carrie (2013) stays true to the source material, both from the original movie and Stephen King’s first published novel. Teenage Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is the only child of a fanatically religious mother and is a shy, awkward girl. Her mom (Julianne Moore) has kept her sheltered (there’s passing reference to her having been home schooled until the school district intervened) and Carrie knows very little about her burgeoning telekinetic powers and even less about her impending womanhood. She learns about the latter in a disturbing fashion at school, which culminates in her peers pelting her with feminine products and chanting slurs at her. In an effort to modernize the story, this awful incident is promptly recorded on someone’s iPhone and uploaded to YouTube.

Her kind gym teacher (Judy Greer) attempts to comfort Carrie and punish her tormentors. She assigns all the mean girls to gym detention (flashback to my own high school nightmares); a punishment most girls accept, particularly sweet teen queen Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), who feels terrible about her own cruelty. Her partner in crime, antagonist Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), rebels against a week’s worth of sprints and stadium runs and gets banned from the prom as a result. She plots an even more terrible revenge against Carrie and, I’ll give you a hint, it involves pig blood. You probably know where the story goes from here.

Carrie (2013) ought to be even more poignant today than it was in the 1970s, what with the rise of bullying, cyber-bullying and resulting teenage suicides. The scene of Carrie, tormented in the school shower, is indeed powerful and sad, but the film seems to shy away from making her truly a teen under attack until the climactic scene at the prom. Yeah, she gets a bunch of tampons thrown in her face and yeah, she gets humiliated online, but all in all, the other kids seem okay with Carrie. She might not be popular, but she doesn’t seem to be all together hated either.

Chloë Grace Moretz is probably too conventionally pretty to make a truly effective Carrie. Sure, her hair is her face and her clothes are frumpy, but I doubt severely that no one in that school noticed there’s a girl as pretty as a model underneath all the angsty shoe-gazing. There are scenes of other students laughing at her, sure, but there are also scenes where her classmates are offering her helpful advice in the library. I assume it’s because they noticed that Carrie is actually pretty hot.

Sue Snell is supposed to be the audience’s link to the story, the remorseful girl who does something mean and wants to make amends (as we all assume we would if we did something nasty to an innocent peer), but her role is watered down and tentative in Peirce’s version. Sue sends Carrie to prom with her boyfriend, but we don’t see her befriending Carrie in any other fashion. Her characterization is bland and she is greatly outshone by her wicked counterpart, Chris.

Julianne Moore is probably the stand out performer in the cast, forgoing the maniacal holy-roller from the previous feature film and creating instead, a more nuanced character. Moore’s Mrs. White is still deeply religious, but also a proponent of self-harm and prone to making the wrong decision for what she thinks is the right reasons. She warps Carrie’s sense of self and keeps her isolated and weird, while still expressing genuine love and care for the girl.

The original Carrie ended up garnering several award nominations (particularly Academy Award nominations for the lead actresses). I doubt severely that this version will do likewise. Modern film techniques are unable to enhance the creepiness of Carrie’s rampage and the whole film just seems like a prettier version of the original. All in all, Carrie (2013) is a decent film, but an unnecessary remake. There are plenty of horror films (Stephen King films in particular) that are begging for a remake. Why try to redo an already good thing?

2.5 out of 5