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

By Dustin Rowles | Film | October 18, 2013 |

By Dustin Rowles | Film | October 18, 2013 |

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.