Trepidation accompanied me as I popped the Carrie remake into my DVD player. The original film is one of my all-time favorite horrors and I gave it an eight out of ten. Stephen King’s story of young Carrie White, a shy girl bullied by her cruel classmates, was told beautifully on the screen in 1976. When the original is so fantastic, much like the case with Psycho, it’s hard to justify a remake. Sure, if the first attempt sucks, give it another go. But lately in horror, it seems a lack of original thought leads to digging old classics off the shelves and subjecting them to present-day theatrics. Perhaps the only argument for taking such a terrific film from the past and reimagining it is to introduce new generations to a timeless story, but filmmakers seem to forget they’re stepping on the generations who already love the film. Carrie, released in 2013, stars Chloe Moretz as the title character and the incomparable Julianne Moore as her mother, Margaret White. Most of you know the tale, Carrie White is a shy, quiet misfit (with a penchant for telekinesis) who is bullied by her classmates and suffocated by her overbearing, super religious mother. The film culminates at her high school prom with what can only be described as one of the most iconic scenes in horror history.
This remake didn’t stray too far from the original, adding in bits and pieces more in line with the novel and then some random things just for fun, but the changes impacted the overall story nonetheless. For me, it’s pointless to remake Carrie, but this remake did bring a few things to the table I liked. Several casting choices made this film worth the five I gave it. For starters, Julianne Moore was outstanding. Both actresses had HUGE shoes to fill and Moore definitely rose to the occasion. Her portrayal of Carrie’s mother was disturbing and mesmerizing. Portia Doubleday was sufficiently infuriating as the evil Chris and a much more developed gym teacher, played by Judy Greer, was a fantastic addition. I felt both of these characters, and Tommy, boasted more depth than those in the original, which was a pleasant surprise. Ansel Elgort was outstanding as charming Tommy Ross, bringing a sincerity and poise to the character that truly made your heart break.
Such great casting choices, yet only a five… why? As far as the plot goes, this remake didn’t better the original in any way and I’d argue some decisions made it worse. In this version, Carrie’s telekinesis builds throughout the film, making her actions at the prom seem much more premeditated. In the original, Carrie is bullied throughout and we see her self-esteem chipping away slowly, but she never taps into her telekinetic power like 2013 Carrie does. This allows the final prom scene to be explosive and the last straw for Carrie, the point in which all that bullying turns into outrage. This remake made Carrie’s prom exploits seem much more evil and villain-like as opposed to the breakdown of a troubled girl. The beauty of Carrie is that she’s a perfect anti-hero; the audience is still cheering for her at the end of the film even though her actions result in mass deaths. In this version, she felt a little less anti-hero and a little more villain, which I personally didn’t like. Also, I was less than impressed with Chloe Moretz’s portrayal of Carrie. She seemed to overact Carrie’s insecurities to the point it seemed extremely forced. Certainly nothing like Sissy Spacek’s doe-eyed and innocent take on the character.
Why do we remake films that are already so close to perfection? Sometimes I wonder if sneaky Hollywood bigshots comb horror island on the weekends in search of a villain they can dust off and renovate. Sometimes (most of the time) a film should be left alone and Carrie is one of those. This 2013 remake detracted a bit from the greatness of the original with its fancy graphics and theatrics, which is a shame because I thought several of the casting choices were better than the first.
If you liked Carrie, you might also like Carrie, Let Me In and Friday the 13th: Part 7: The New Blood.