Kimberly Pierce’s remake of Carrie was released last Friday, signalling the continuing demise of Hollywood with yet another fall-back to old material. Forty years on from Brian De Palma’s adaptation, Pierce’s version claims fidelity to Stephen King’s original novel, but does that ultimately make it a better film? And the question on everyone’s lips when a classic is remade: is it even necessary?
It may not seem fair to position the new Carrie beside the old, but when remaking such a highly-respected and influential horror film, there’s no room to treat them as separate works of art: the comparison is inescapable. One of the main problems that many people are experiencing with the remake is Chloe Grace Moretz. As usual her performance can’t really be faulted; she obviously puts the effort in (and this isn’t the last time she’s appeared in a horror remake either: Let Me In showcased her vampiric side), but she’s just too pretty to play a 17 year old Carrie White – a character who, abused by cheerleaders and shunned by everyone, is essentially the school freak.
The book describes her as being slightly overweight, acne-ridden and generally unattractive, making the actions of the school bullies seem at least somewhat believable, but here we’re presented with a telekinetic, long-haired Hit Girl with a taste for vintage fashion – not exactly someone to be picked on.
Nothing comes close Sissy Spacek’s bug-eyed stare as she stands on the high-school stage, red from head to toe – it’s iconic.
Granted, Moretz looks close to demonic wandering around town in a blood-stained prom dress, but nothing comes close to Sissy Spacek’s bug-eyed stare as she stands on the high-school stage, red from head to toe – it’s iconic. Spacek gave an isolated, innocent performance as Carrie in 1976, yet at the same time appearing unhinged and almost dangerous; something that Moretz is sadly unable to achieve.
One of the better casting decisions, however, is Julianne Moore as the evangelical mother Margaret White, who gives even the fantastic Piper Laurie a run for her money. With a combination of eye-watering self-harm and several select quotes from the Book of Revelations, we’re given a character with which even the Westboro Baptist Church would find it difficult to sympathise.
In terms of the film’s faithfulness to the book, Carrie does a pretty good job at sticking to the narrative and inserting a few references for fans to pick up on (e.g. there’s a joke that Carrie’s favourite film is Bloodsport – the title of the first part of King’s novel).
The plot remains largely the same as both the book and the De Palma film, the most notable change being an attempt to update the time period, with Carrie now a victim of cyber-bullying and the infamous shower scene filmed and uploaded onto YouTube (though for some reason it does nothing to incriminate the girls responsible); it’s mostly ineffectual, but on the bright side younger audiences might be encouraged to seek out the original.
It’s certainly watchable, even enjoyable at times, but in the end nothing of any real significance is achieved.
What else is there to say? It’s certainly watchable, even enjoyable at times, but in the end nothing of any real significance is achieved. Pierce is certainly a competent director and provides some memorable death scenes, but it’s all been done before. It’s the same thing, just not as good.