'Carrie' Review: Sweet Bloody Revenge, But Not Much Else
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'Carrie' Review: Sweet Bloody Revenge, But Not Much Else

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | October 18, 2013 | Comments ()


Anyone that’s seen Brian DePalma’s original Carrie will likely argue that the remake is unnecessary. The audience to whom the 2013 version is aimed doesn’t give a sh*t, and that very same audience is not likely to seek out a nearly 40-year-old film with a bunch of people they’ve never heard of (plus the old guy from Hairspray) over a new incarnation with a recognizable star. Look: In theory, farm shares are great! In practice, I throw away a lot wilted greens every week. Likewise, in theory, people should seek out the original Carrie (or even read Stephen King’s novel). In practice, the decision for most people will not be between the two Carrie movies, but whether they should watch 2013’s Carrie this weekend or stay home and surf Netflix.

(I assume that anyone who is reading this already knows what happens in Carrie, either because they’ve seen the original movie, read the novel, or has seen the trailer already, which gives the entire movie away. If you’re somehow going into this with no knowledge of the events that transpire in the movie, I’d suggest skipping the review. On the plus side, it should be slightly more fun for you if the movie still holds some surprise, although it would be fairly clear even to Carrie newbies where the movie is headed by the second act).

The Carrie remake is an entertaining enough diversion, and while I don’t advocate the wholesale slaughter of bratty, teenage little sh*ts, man is it ever fun to see onscreen. It’s not as salacious, tense, or disturbing as the original Carrie, and the psychological torture inflicted on the title character is not as unsettling, but it’s cruel enough to create a sense of satisfaction in the invariable deaths of Carrie’s tormenters.

The movie centers on Carrie White (Chloe Moretz), a quiet high-school outcast who had been home-schooled by her Bible-thumping mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore), until the state forced her to attend public school. Margaret is a wackjob so terrified of sin that she couldn’t bring herself to warn her daughter about menstruation. Unfortunately for Carrie, her period arrives while she’s in the shower after high-school P.E. class. Under the belief that she’s bleeding to death, Carrie freaks, and when her fellow classmates realize what’s going on, they pelt her with tampons and chant “Plug it up! Plug it up!” as high-school students are wont to do. Being the age that it is, the entire scene is recorded on a camera phone and uploaded onto the Internet, and Carrie quickly becomes the school laughingstock. Margaret, naturally, blames Carrie and piles on, locking her daughter into a Jesus closet and forcing her to pray for forgiveness.

However, one of Carrie’s tormenters, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), ends up feeling guilty about the way she treated Carrie. She convinces her very sweet boyfriend to take Carrie to prom. This does not sit well with several of Carrie’s other tormenters, in particular Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), who is suspended for her actions in the tampon-pelting incident and barred from prom. She plots revenge against Carrie, who — in the meantime — has figured out that she has telekinetic powers which allow her to basically use the force: She can move sh*t with her mind.

Everything comes to a head at prom.

There aren’t a lot of layers to the 2013 version of Carrie, and it completely misses the boat on what DePalma managed to convey about Carrie’s sexual awakening and her longing for acceptance. However, as a straight-up teenage-horror revenge flick, it satisfies. Chloe Moretz turns in a decent performance, although she completely neuters the sexual aspects of the original. She is sweet, naive, and timid, but when the time comes, she puts on one hell of a show.

It’s a great massacre, y’all.

While I wouldn’t call the first two acts a slog, Pierce certainly missed out on several opportunities to dig deeper into the mind of Carrie White, better explore the relationship with her mother, and elevate the level of psychological torment. The revenge feels earned enough, but there were several instances that would’ve allowed Pierce to really make the audience squirm, to extract greater sympathy for Carrie White. It’s still fun, even as it veers into Final Destination territory, but it only really works as a gore-fest rather than a psychological study into a troubled young woman. But if blood and guts are what you want, Kimberly Pierce’s climactic finale delivers, earning two and a half ‘F*ck Yeahs!’ on a scale of four.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Brian Kehinde

    "Carrie" is just halloweeny kid-scare stuff. Julianne Moore does indeed have a knack for playing horrible mothers. In a little indie film called "Savage Grace", she schtupped her own teenage son. That dirty deed is infinitely more horrifying to see than any of Carrie's prom night carnage, so if that's your bag...

  • BiblioGlow

    There was a made-for-tv Carrie made about ten years ago that sounds like it outstripped this one in both conveying the feel of the original and updating it for modern teens. The idea was that it would be a lead in for a presumably terrible tv show, so it is deeply, deeply flawed (especially the ending), but I remember it being pretty disturbing and terrifying when I saw it. Then again it was probably about 1am, so that may have helped.

  • stryker1121


    From what I understand this new version of Carrie smooths some of the sharp edges of King's book and the original movie. That is, the original Carrie goes off like a bomb, taking out everyone, bully and non-bully alike This Carrie only wastes her tormentors.

    Also, Moretz's casting has a trope-y 'ugly-pretty' vibe to it. Spacek was not ugly by any stretch but her Carrie had a fey alienness to her that made her outsider status totally convincing.

  • You summed up all of my quibbles about the remake (and bad scripting in the last moments that had subtext unnecessarily stated by Carrie).

  • Lab Kat

    The original "Carrie" was one of those movies that should not be touched, ever. It was one of the most faithful and best adaptations of a Stephen King book and and Sissy Spacek was perfect. Period. End of story.

  • e jerry powell

    See, after Boys Don't Cry, I would expect better.from that director.

    I so miss Amy Irving.

    The relationship between Margaret and Carrie in the book is troubling to me, but in a bad story outline way, so I'm going to call leaving it unexplored here a wash.

    Something in me would have been truly amused to see a Miracle Worker kind of turnaround with Carrie Have Sissy Spacek pull a Patty Duke. But that's just me, and I'm old.

  • llp

    Bad story outline - in what way?

  • e jerry powell

    First thing: Even allowing that Margaret White may well be batshit crazy, King establishes at one point in the story that Carrie's father was dead before Carrie was born, but Margaret maintains that it was only through her husband's intervention that she didn't kill Carrie as the baby lay in its crib. Continuity errors are common in film and TV, but completely inexcusable in a book. Both film versions benefit from ignoring problems like that.

  • llp

    That's interesting, I don't remember that at all. It has probably been 15-20 years since I read Carrie. I might have to go back and read it again.

  • PDamian

    I saw this a couple of hours ago. Julianne Moore was terrific, as usual, and the film would have been a total loss without her. Chloe Grace Moretz, unfortunately, was a disappointment. It wasn't a bad performance, exactly; she's sweetly shy and scared, and she conveys well the loneliness of the teenage high school outsider. What's lacking is the torment, the despair and the weirdness of the Carrie in King's novel or Sissy Spacek's performance in the original movie. Everyone else in the film -- Sue Snell, boyfriend Tommy, villain Christine Jorgensen, the principal, the gym teacher, etc. -- was mediocre at best. Then again, all of the characters in this film except for Carrie and her mother were severely underwritten, so that there really wasn't enough time for the actors to establish themselves as more than stock characters: the rich bitch, the bad-boy boyfriend from the wrong side of the tracks, the good girl, her dim but decent boyfriend, etc. The film is quite short, about 90 minutes; I got the impression that another 30 minutes would have been good for additional character development.

  • Ginger

    Where's the review for 'The Fifth Estate??'

  • Zen

    Sue's very sweet boyfriend - oh, that was Billy Katt. Something about that boy broke my dang heart.

  • Bandit

    Begs the question...why, exactly, is this movie so much tamer than the first? Chloe Moretz and a generation of detached gore-lovers hardly equals Carrie-lite.

  • I was hoping (but not expecting at all) that showing the entire fucking film in the trailers meant that they were going to surprise people with something new. Figures.

  • Luke Lane

    No mention of Julianne Moore at all? This review fails me.

  • the_wakeful

    Then maybe you shouldn't prop up all your hopes and dreams with movie reviews.

  • Dragonchild

    They're gonna laugh at you!

  • bastich

    I can see your dirty pillows!

  • Kinda expected it would end up like this: visually impressive and exciting in the climax, but fairly tame compared to the original. Which is sad, because I thought Morietz and Moore would have done a really good job conveying the utter horror and torment of that relationship.

    Seriously, does Julienne Moore ever play any kind of sane, loving parent? or at least a crazy parent that doesn't fill me with uncomfortable yet filthy thoughts? A ginger haired hellbeast that would pleasure me and consume my very soul in equal measure?

    ....perhaps I said too much.

    Anyway, I really hate to be THAT GUY, but Chronicle seems to serve as a better remake in theme, tone, and subject matter.

  • icyn2

    She is sweet, if adulterous, in The Kids Are Alright

  • Meli_V

    Your review confirms what I've already suspected, but I'm glad to read it's not completely terrible because my daughter wants to see this, and yes, she's already seen the original.

  • Naye

    So basically, I could get my thrills by just re-reading the book?

  • bastich

    You could also catch "Carrie: The Musical" this month if you live in San Fran or Seattle.

    (Yes, it's a slow work day. Why do you ask?)

  • Aww man, I would love to see that. I have seen some of it on youtube, seems like quality cheese. Hmm, seattle is not too far from here. . .

  • bastich

    Great review. I'm a little fuzzy on your grading scale, though.

    What would you rate as a four-‘F*ck Yeahs!’ movie?

  • pissant

    The film of my conception.

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