Twitter Plot Summary: Carrie White is bullied by the popular girls at school when her latent psychic ability manifests itself.
Five Point Summary:
1. Nope, you’re not bleeding to death.
2. Her mum’s batty. Truly batty.
3. Remorse – genuine or not? Hmm.
4. She’s going t’Prom then.
5. Oh my. Carnage aplenty.
Remakes are quite often a tricky proposition. For most remakes there is already an ardent fan base baying for blood and crying sacrilege for the mere notion that their beloved film is deemed popular enough for a studio to remake it. Then there’s the tricky spot that the makers of the new interpretation find themselves in – do they stick rigidly to the original film, a la the shot for shot remake of Psycho? Do they completely reinvent the story so that it bears no resemblance to the original, like Total Recall (admittedly in that case it’s based more on the book, but that doesn’t mean it’s any good)? Or do they play it safe and change a couple of things, but ultimately leave it much the same as the original? This is the situation the new version of Carrie finds itself in. It doesn’t deviate significantly enough from the 1976 original to say anything new – a clear target for commentary would be the new, connected world we find ourselves in these days, a world where somebody can do something embarrassing and it finds its way onto YouTube or other video sharing sites within a few minutes of it happening. This is an early narrative thread that doesn’t go anywhere and is a clear missed opportunity.
Carrie is an outsider at high school. She’s tormented by bullies and, after experiencing her first period in the showers and thinking she’s bleeding to death, the girls crowd round to have a laugh and one of them films the incident on her phone. After this humiliation, Carrie also has to deal with her fanatically religious mother, and get through high school and possibly attend the prom. Throughout all of this she is targeted by one of the girls, Chris, who takes an instant dislike to her in a way that is apparently endemic in all women – instant judgement and vilification.
In terms of central performances, Chloe Grace Moretz is fine as Carrie, although it’s hard to picture her as a social outcast. She’s a great actor, but in terms of appearance alone she isn’t different enough from the other girls to justify their dislike of her. Julianne Moore has some fun as Carrie’s near-psychotic religious mother, babbling religious texts and throwing verbal and physical insults in Carrie’s general direction. Sports teacher Ms Desjardin gets some good lines of dialogue, but is ultimately just a bit player in the story – it’s all about Carrie gaining control over her psychic abilities and gaining vengeance on those who have tormented her thus far. It’s not spoilers to say as much – the whole point of the story is to build up to her inevitable quest for revenge.
All of the remaining teenagers are, for want of a better term, generic. Other than Carrie’s primary bully being a bit catty, there’s nothing else to define her or indeed any of the others. Oh, perhaps the guilt felt by another student, Sue, but even that feels so badly set up you start wondering if she’s genuinely remorseful or is just putting on a show. By the time we reach the prom, even without having seen the original we know what’s going to happen. And it does so – carnage, carnage and more carnage. Suffice to say, there’s no chance anything to the same scale would’ve worked and looked anywhere as good in 1976. So… huzzah for modern technological breakthroughs I guess.
The opportunity this time round is of course in the special effects. You may be surprised to note that there has been a lot of development in film effects since 1976, and this clearly separates the 2013 Carrie from the “things on strings” approach used in 1976 Carrie. In this instance the effects look good and suitable for the tone that has been established. If this had been the first stab at transferring the Carrie tale to film, then it would’ve possibly fared a bit better, however as it’s a remake – and one that doesn’t expand on the core concept of the original – then ultimately it falls short by comparison.