Rebooted and Re-Blonded.
The classic Stephen King novel is remade for a new generation of bullied hot girls.
CARRIE is the awkward, bullied outcast at school; her mother is a religious fanatic self-flagellator who regularly imprisons Carrie in the Prayer Closet to atone for whatever sins she has committed by being a girl. With the onset of her period, Carrie finds she has gained telekinetic power. Suddenly, she has the power to strike back at all her bullies. At the school prom, she does.
Well-directed (by Kimberly Peirce, STOP-LOSS) and well performed – with one fatal flaw. They’ve cast the most beautiful woman in the world to play the “awkward outcast.” Though she is a stunning actor, Chloe Grace Moretz (KICK-ASS 2) is also too physically stunning to be an awkward outcast. In the original CARRIE (1976), we were either repulsed by Sissy Spacek as Carrie, or oddly attracted to her. But these filmmakers just choose to ignore reality. Or they’re blind. When a woman is in Chloe’s league, no matter how awkward, coy, shy or clumsy, she is fawned upon by males of the species like huddling baboons. Her awkwardness and shyness only exacerbates the baboonism: “Let me just help you up,” “Let me just carry your books to your next class,” “Let me just show you how to lift that weight.” “Let me just put the tip in”… And secondly, this isn’t the Clark Kent School of Disguise – you can’t just adopt stooped shoulders and wear no makeup and suddenly be considered swollen ugly and avoided like broccoli. The filmmakers have not even adopted that staple of supposed girly ugliness – throwing glasses on her and tying her hair back; they just let Moretz roam freely looking like a cherubim amongst swine and expect us to forget how humanity works.
And we let all the hot girls in the audience think they can be victims too… and move on…
First school scene shows Carrie ogling all the hot girls in pool volleyball– waitaminute! We’ve fallen out of the film already – because we’re ogling Carrie! Golden blond, aquiline nose, anemone lips, no blemishes, no warts, no unseemly moles, no skin tags, no deformed parts, perfect proportions – she’s just as hot as those other girls… hotter. But she drops the volleyball during a crucial play, so – ugly, I guess.
Pierce’s 2013 CARRIE is almost a shot-for-shot rendition of Brian De Palma’s 1976 CARRIE. So we know everything that’s coming: Shower scene, blood, tampons, taunts – and now… YouTube! One of the bullying girls posts a video of screaming Carrie to YouTube for extra modernaire cred. That’s Chris Hargensen the Bad Girl (Portia Doubleday, YOUTH IN REVOLT). Meanwhile Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde, THE THREE MUSKETEERS, 2011) becomes the Good Girl and tries to help, realizing Carrie doesn’t know what her period is. Gym teacher (Judy Greer) punishes everyone for bullying. Chris rebels and is suspended from school and the prom, so vows revenge on Carrie by enlisting her boyfriend Billy Nolan (Alex Russell, who’s a “badboy” on accounta his leather and muscle car) to kill a pig and drain its blood, and to tip that bucket over Carrie as a practical joke at the prom. If only this girl put this much effort into her schoolwork…
Meanwhile, we’ve met Carrie’s Mama, and endured her paranoid biblical babblings. Julianne Moore as Mama infuses her performance with more horror than Piper Laurie in the original. She’s more haggard, more religious – and she’s a cutter. Scabs and track marks cover her arms and legs where she’s cut herself for penance – bloodletting for Jesus. Ironically, she forces Carrie into the penitential Prayer Closet for menstruating sinfully against Jesus’s wishes.
Carrie, discovering her telekinetic power, uses it to block Mama’s attacks (causing Mama to accuse her of being a witch). Psychic power brought on by puberty, explained away as genetic, and taken as “real,” because – research montage. Which bugs me no end because:
- it’s a montage, fer chrissakes (all I can hear as soundtrack is You’re The Best from KARATE KID, or Take It To The Limit From SCARFACE);
- Carrie searches online for telekinesis, then walks down actual library aisles pulling out books – but she’s already online. In the limited time this montage should take place, what can she glean from books that she can’t online?;
- pile of books to denote information, that no one could possibly find the time to read, but we clearly see the titles on their spines, so that counts: Telekinesis, Miracles: An Encyclopedia, Moving Objects With Your Mind, The Telekinesis Montage Handbook…
- she gathers books – then watches videos!;
- nameless guy turns up and shyly shows her how to watch fullscreen. What was the point of this scene and this guy? Future knowledge to use in a payoff? A love interest? Nothing;
- he clicks a button for fullscreen then walks away, leaving this computer-illiterate person adrift on how to exit fullscreen mode. “Hey, how do I read the Comments? How do I open up a new browser screen? What’s a browser screen anyway?…”
This oblong-headed scene is almost as frightful as the unholy Catholic imagery in Carrie’s Prayer Closet.
Three more Falling-Out-Of-Movie scenes:
- Missionary position pan-up of Sue Snell having sex with her boyfriend: blanket is draped meticulously over only ass; keep panning up – she’s wearing a bra! Goddamit, who screws like this? Blanket in that uncomfortable position would cause me to rip it to shreds – and take that bra off, woman! What’s the matter with you?!
- Who’s the dreamboat teacher? Talk about miscasting: teacher who calls Carrie up and snidely dismisses her poem is a cross between Adrian Zmed and Ellis from DIE HARD. And speaking of Ellis–
- Chris Hargensen’s father (Hart Bochner) tries to smarm the principal out of punishing Chris. It’s Ellis from DIE HARD! He negotiates million dollar deals for breakfast.
Newcomer Ansel Elgort is Tommy, Sue’s boyfriend and resident Mark Ruffalo! I’m always pontificating about female types being replaced by younger doppelgangers – here at last is a male “type” to replace one of the quiet ladykillers of an aging generation: that inner charm that sneaks up on you and says boo; that doe-eyed humility and head-waggling cuteness. And anemone lips to match Chloe’s!
Night of the prom, and Tommy picks Carrie up at magic hour, sun glinting off her strawberry hair and dirty pillows.
The prom, the blood, the revenge. In the original, Sissy Spacek glared to make her point; in this modern age of superhero films, Chloe does not disappoint, as she gestures like Magneto to git ‘r done! The final destruction is played more powerfully than the 1976 version due to better tech (though it adds nothing to the story). And Chloe’s superhero gesturing makes it less horrifying for some reason. She even does a Walk Away From Explosion.
CARRIE is a sincere attempt at recreating an iconic film, but ultimately a pointless exercise in copycatting. Think about it: for every remake, sequel, prequel and reboot, an original script is passed over, and every unoriginal script that gets greenlighted makes it harder for an original script to do so. The avaricious, gutless circle feeds itself. Yet cannot even sustain itself that way – THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 bombed in 1999, then the TV movie CARRIE shook our eyeballs with inept UnSteadiCam in 2002. Imagine if all that money and those jobs were funneled into new art? It’s exhausting and disheartening witnessing this crushing disrespect for originality and the fear of promoting quality new material.
I rest my weary head on dirty pillows.