One can always spot the crazies from a mile away. Take Margaret White for example: She makes up her own Bible verses, locks her daughter in her a closet, harms herself in the presence of evil, the whole shabang… Unfortunately, since she is loopy, her daughter Carrie is seen the same way, but more on that later. Oh, I almost forgot. To top off Margaret’s crazy factor, she nearly kills her newborn child with a pair of scissors.
Margaret doesn’t seem as if she is in labour for very long, there’s just a trail of blood from the front door to her bedroom, she looks like she’s doing a sort-of break dancing move on the bed, she says “I’m dying” a few times, and then poof! Carrie is born, a girl so special she isn’t born with an umbilical cord. That is what some might think Margaret is getting the scissors for initially, to cut the umbilical cord, but then she said “This is a test” and I didn’t know what to expect.
I think the film tests me at one point; as I still don’t know whether to interpret one of the film’s deaths as foolish or serious. I won’t spoil it, but I just think it’s a bit silly. I’m sure when you see it, you’ll know which death I’m talking about. I have seen more clichéd awfulness in some horror movies by far, but it isn’t believable. It’s no fault of director Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) because she is trying to make a faithful adaptation, so it seems Stephen King is the one to blame. Geniuses can make dumb mistakes once in a while; especially in their debut novel.
It seems that many have heard the basics of the story of Carrie White, but I’ll rehash it anyway in as few words as possible. The titular Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is an introverted and shy high school girl who is sheltered by her deeply religious mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore). After an incident at school involving a gang of girls throwing tampons at Carrie (which a gym teacher later dubs a “very shitty thing”) because it appears she is having her first period, it sets off a chain of events that don’t end well at the high school prom.
Unfortunately for the townsfolk, Carrie is developing telekenetic powers – which is why she bleeds so much during her first period. What the filmmakers are able to do with the telekenetic powers is very cool. It adds the supernatural layer to the atmospheric movie. It’s also a Prom movie with those lame getting ready for prom montages, and a classic revenge story as well. It’s a small story, but an engaging one.
The character of Carrie is just so real (save her powers, perhaps). Anyone would want to get back at those who bully them, maybe not as severely, but some might. She’s a person like anybody else who would like to be more of a normal girl, but unfortunately gets lumped in the “crazy” basket with her mother who makes her go to school and come straight back home. Moretz brings power to the character, even if she might be too attractive for the role. I do enjoy mostly everything she does, though. Her story is an interesting tale of how sometimes victims become anti-heroes when they are pushed too far, and then the question of who is actually the victim now arises.
The character of Margaret is hard to like because she’s very drastic, but Moore turns in a spooky performance. There are some good compassionate characters here, like Sue (Gabriella Wilde), who has second thoughts about her involvement with the tampon situation. Chris (Portia Doubleday, “Youth in Revolt”) is a real bitch, but her character does serve purpose. Ansel Elgort brings about a few awkward attempts at humour as Tommy Ross.
Enough about the characters, one of this film’s biggest problems is that it’s so familiar. This is top-tier as far as remakes go because this is good filmmaking, but it’s extremely reminiscent of the original. Even though the remake of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” is awful, at least it shows a cool re-imagining of how Freddy is killed in the first remake, unlike the originals where I didn’t notice the first peek until “Freddy vs. Jason.” (Granted, I only saw the first and “FvJ”.)
I imagine the real trouble for this film to separate itself from other versions of “Carrie” is because there are so many films based on one Stephen King book, and they’re going to feel inferior. This version of “Carrie” is good for the performances and atmosphere. There aren’t many jump scares, because if any audience have seen the original, there might guess what’s coming next; but the atmosphere is frightening and intense. It’s a solid drama as well. I’d watch it again because it’s good filmmaking, and writer Lawrence D. Cohen and Peirce retell the story well for modern audiences.