Mania Review: Carrie -

Mania Review

Mania Grade: C

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  • Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday, Ansel Elgort and Judy Greer
  • Written by: Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
  • Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
  • Studio: Screen Gems
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 100 mins
  • Series:

Mania Review: Carrie

Worst. Prom. Ever.

By Rob Vaux     October 18, 2013

© Screen Gems/Robert Trate

 “They laughed at me.”

It’s possibly the most heartbreaking line in movie history, a wail of despair from a bullied, persecuted, utterly friendless soul who has just brought the walls of Jericho tumbling down. It’s the cry of Carrie White – and by extension every outcast who ever felt the sting of casual cruelty. In her, Stephen King created the ultimate victim, then handed her a hydrogen bomb and pointed it at the sneering cretins of the world. Carrie turned him into a household name, but it took Brian De Palma (with a lot of help from Sissy Spacek) to really, truly capture what it was all about. The constant terror. The powerless wards against blows that could fall at any time. The tearful hand held out for someone – anyone – to show a little kindness and the smoldering fury left behind when no one does.

It was perfect, as perfect a horror film as you could find, which is part of why this new version fails almost as soon as it leaves the gate. It couldn’t possibly match its predecessor, or even come close. But with a little more insight, it might have at least found few new things to say about the story. You can see them hovering around the edges, with helicoptering parents and humiliations shared with the world on YouTube. But director Kimberly Peirce can’t find anywhere to go with her new concepts, and clings to the old ones too closely to break out of De Palma shadow. Too many scenes stick to close to his. Too many conversations are repeated too closely. And while Peirce clearly understands the material, she can’t find the painful sympathy necessary to convey its message.

It really comes down to who the creators identify with. King himself always claimed he was Susan Snell (played here by Gabriella Wilde): the well-meaning bystander who regrets her part in Carrie’s pain and tries to make amends. Peirce gravitates towards Coach Desjardin (Judy Greer), another sympathetic figure who works to protect Carrie from her peers to no avail. They both see the story one step removed. Only De Palma latched on to Carrie herself, displaying her tearful existence for all of us to see and daring us to look aside.

Here, we just don’t get that close. Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a little too self-assured to sell us on such sorrow. There’s too much Hit Girl in her, and while we can buy her status as an outsider (Moretz is way too good to drop that ball), we can’t sense her as the pariah she needs to be.  As it stands we get a technically superb performance that Peirce simply can’t guide to the requisite heart.

The story unfolds exactly as the first one did, starting with Carrie’s humiliating first menstrual cycle and travelling through various attempts to right that wrong until it all goes pear-shaped at the senior prom.  It knows each step and follows them diligently, but the little changes fail to distinguish themselves and the necessary emotion simply doesn’t exist. Peirce loses her nerve with distressing regularity, pulling her punches when she should be going for the throat. This is an R-rated film and yet it feels very PG-13; God forbid they do something daring at the cost of a few teenage dollars.

Take, for example, Carrie’s chief tormentor Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), she of the infamous bucket of pig’s blood. Here, she hesitates in her barbs from time to time, goaded by her boyfriend Billy (Alex Russell) rather than being the ultimate mean girl she’s really supposed to be. Peirce is going for well-roundedness, but it ends up letting Chris off the hook a little bit. Bullies never dwell on their bullying; they just cast their victims aside and move on to whatever pain their own life holds. Peirce misses that here, and it proves a fatal decision. Carrie suffers from a number of similar issues, from the pro forma recreation of De Palma’s iconic images to a climax that loses the apocalyptic tragedy it desperately needs.

 It’s still an interesting film from time to time, mostly thanks to Julianne Moore playing Carrie’s mom. She’s no less crazy than the Piper Laurie version, but she downplays it by showing us a woman almost as frightened of the world as her daughter. She and Moretz successfully evoke the complex relationships between parents and their children, and with her brand of fanaticism more in the public spotlight than ever, Mrs. White successfully updates herself in ways the rest of the film can’t.

Otherwise, it all elicits a giant shrug. This Carrie certainly isn’t bad; it just can’t find a reason to justify itself, neither bold enough to strike its own path nor powerful enough to match the first film. This is the third time it’s been made (four if you count the short-lived stage musical, five if you add the long-forgotten sequel), and it has never felt so irrelevant as it does here. The talent is in place, and the material’s power is undiminished. Carrie tries, but can’t find the energy to bring it to life: another bystander in a story it never quite gets.


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DarkXid 10/18/2013 11:09:04 PM

 Is it more faithful to the book then the De Palma film?  This would be what this movie needs.  Especially the ending.  

I'm not as upset about remakes and reboots as I used to be, as long as the update adds something interesting or is more faithful to the source.  

Plus, hell, it's not my money.  If hollywood wants to waste its mone on clones, let it.  




Wyldstaar 10/19/2013 8:34:17 AM

I would say that Kimberly Peirce made a modern update of the De Palma film, rather than an adaptation of the King novel.  Her new movie follows the older one beat for beat with few exceptions.  The only parts which were more loyal to the book are the fact that the gym teacher's name has been changed back to Ms. DesGardin, the twins are in the background and there are about 30 seconds of The White Commission at the end of the movie.

This is what disappointed me the most about the Peirce movie.  The novel tells the story in flashback, telling the reader right up front how the story is going to end.  It made perfect sense for De Palma to excise this part of the book, since hardly anyone knew the story in 1976.  Here in 2013 though, everyone is already familiar with the iconic image of Carrie White bathed in blood on Prom Night.  We all know what's coming before we buy a movie ticket.  This was a perfect opportunity for Kimberly Peirce to do something with the story that none of the other various directors over the years have done.  Instead, she played it safe and stuck to De Palma's proven method.

I was really hoping that we'd get to see Carrie unleashed this time, but it doesn't happen.  In the novel, Carrie does far more than just torch the school.  With the De Palma film, it's understandable that they only feature the Prom since he only had a budget of $1.1 million to work with.  Even in 1976, that wasn't much.  Peirce had a $30 million budget, which should have been enough to burn half the town to the ground and give us a serious death toll.  The novel stated that over 400 people died across the town on Prom Night.  Of those, only about 75 were at the Prom.  The rest died in Carrie's rampage as she wandered around town, leaving death and destruction in her wake.

WarCry 10/19/2013 9:26:52 AM

 It was perfect, as perfect a horror film as you could find, which is part of why this new version fails almost as soon as it leaves the gate. It couldn’t possibly match its predecessor, or even come close.


I really don't like this kind of reasoning when reviewing remake/reboots. I shows me that the reviewers is NOT reviewing the film made. But rather that they've gone in with their minds already made up that this movie won't live up to expectations, and that all their looking for is a reason WHY it doesn't live up.
I think it's a false sentiment, also. People get wrapped up in nostalgia and can't put it away. The Total Recall remake was bashed because it could NEVER be as good as Schwarznegger's. But the problem is, Arnie's film wasn't that great. I don't think he's ever made a "great" film (though Terminator 2 and True Lies are pretty damn close). What he's made are films that help us (a lot of us, anyway) define our childhood, and there's no way some punk-ass Irishman (Colin Ferrel) can compete with THAT.
I have concerns with all the remakes, but only in the respect that I feel there are likely a lot of really good, ORIGINAL scripts getting ignored for them. But the movies themselves, while there are some that are just bad, most actually surpass the originals. And that could be seen more easily if we took off the rose-colored nostalgia glasses when talking about the original films.
redhairs99 10/19/2013 11:15:07 AM

 The remake was pretty much just a rehash of the Brian dePalma flick.  Why even do a remake if you aren't going to try to bring something new to the game.  At least the Total Recall remake did a few things that were different in showing us more of Earth's social structure and not going to Mars.

Not sure why this was given an "R"?  Maybe language but overall I thought it was all pretty tame.

I still have a hard time buying Chloe Mortez as an outcast.  Sure pretty kids have their troubles and insecurities in  high school just like everyone else but here she's just miscast.  She did the best she could as any good actor would with what they are given, but she just doesn't fit this character terribly well.

Not a bad movie but more of a "what's the point" movie.




CaptAmerica04 10/19/2013 4:01:28 PM

That's very disappointing.  I was hoping that with acting power like Moretz and Moore that this film would own, especially with bullying being back in the news and so much of a societal concern of late.



saiyiansreign823 10/20/2013 8:41:06 PM

I Remember in the teaser trailer they show Carrie walking down the street leaving everything in the town burning behind her. So they left that part on the cutting room floor. That's what had me excited that it was going to cover the book more. Well I guess there's the director's cut on Blu-Ray/DVD. I'll probably wait knowing what I know now.

axia777 10/21/2013 12:36:43 PM

Wow, so it is a remake of the De Palma movie amd not a new version of the original book? That blows. My interest has officially gone to zero. Oh well, MORONS.


caredskinfan 11/5/2013 9:01:13 AM

 I read an article about this movie where they went with more of a modern take on bullying. From Moretz she read the book as the source material and it was said the movie stuck closer to the book than DePalmas movie. I haven't seen it, but that's what I read about it.



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