A remake of the classic 1976 film and Stephen King’s first novel adapted for film or television, Carrie follows the tragic circumstances and alienation of social outcast Carrie White. It’s difficult enough being a teenager, dealing with puberty, the psychological transition to adulthood, and social interactions among peers. For Carrie White, those challenges are exacerbated by the extreme sheltering of her overbearing religious zealot mother. Carrie, who it is revealed has only recently entered public school due to state intervention from her mother’s homeschooling, finds herself ostracized by her fellow classmates immediately. After a particularly horrific event perpetuated by her lack of knowledge about her own body as well as her classmates ruthlessness and lack of empathy, she becomes the object of ridicule and learns just how low she sits in the social hierarchy of her high school. When handsome and popular Tommy Ross asks her to prom Carrie reluctantly agrees and finds herself at odds with her insane mother and susceptible to further scrutiny from her peers as she seeks to take control of her own life. Unfortunately, for both her mother and her high school peers, Carrie is special, and they soon learn that sometimes people can only be pushed so far before they fight back.
So what does this remake have to offer that 1976’s Carrie, starring Sissy Spacek in the title role, didn’t have? One of the most successful additions is the introduction of cell phone video and its presence on the internet, to enhance the scope of Carrie’s bullying and torment at the hand of her classmates. This addition makes the sheer meanness and lack of empathy of the other girls even more disturbing in an age where we hear time and time again of humiliating videos of teens being distributed to a global audience often with tragic consequences. People’s memories fade over time and things are forgotten but once something is posted online it lives forever and that’s a scary thought when it’s something soul crushingly embarrassing. Another strength is the evolution of special effects technology in the years since the original film. The climax of the film was big, explosive, and grandiose. Advancements in special effects technology over the last 30 years definitely enhanced and polished the epic finale that Stephen King’s novel envisioned. Things looked better, smoother, and more polished than the effects in 1976 could produce.
Julianne Moore is a mentally unbalanced, overly protective, and delusional religious fanatic. Her performance as Carrie’s mother is fantastic and thoroughly unsettling. It is also a more restrained performance than Piper Laurie’s depiction of Margaret White in 1976, which reels in some of the campiness that the original contained. Cholë Grace Moretz also delivers great performance as Carrie. Is her performance better than Sissy Spacek’s? No, but it is definitely worthy of it’s own praise. Maybe, I’m being nostalgic but there’s just something about the iconic image of Spacek, stone faced, in her thin white dress after her “special shower” that is difficult to transcend.
Is this version better than the original? Not really, but it’s not that far from it. Functioning as a pretty straight forward remake it succeeds in it’s goal of reintroducing Carrie to a new generation; a generation who may not be able to get past the campy 1970’s aesthetic of the original, in order to appreciate the story. Carrie has the potential to transcend dates and resonate with any generation. At it’s core it explores social alienation, anxiety over puberty, and the fears that come along with sexual development. As long as the story can be reintroduced in an aesthetic language that different generations identify with, the story will resonate with audiences. That being said, this film is definitely worth watching and I would recommend seeing it in theaters to fully appreciate and enjoy the scope of it’s climax.
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