The original “Carrie” film adaptation from 1976 is considered something of a horror classic, though as to why that is is a bit of a mystery. Revisiting the film recently after around ten years, I found that there wasn’t much remarkable about it other than the infamous prom scene and its shock ending. Its two stars, Sissy Spacek and Laurie Piper, even received Oscar nominations for performances that were decent at best. The Stephen King novel would once again be adapted in 2002, but this time for the small screen. This is a version I never saw, though the reviews weren’t exactly making it seem like a worthwhile endeavor. Now we’re faced with yet another adaptation, this time putting the novel back up on the big screen for a new generation.
The story is rather simple, revolving around Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz), an antisocial outcast who lives with her over-protective, religious mother (Julianne Moore). After gym class one day, Carrie has her first period and panics because she doesn’t know what’s going on. All the other girls do is throw tampons at her and laugh before the teacher finally breaks it up. The students are punished, which eventually leads to one of them plotting something even worse. Another of the girls, Sue (Gabrielle Wilde), feels remorseful for her part in the incident, so she asks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), to ask Carrie to the senior prom. After much reluctance and suspicion, Carrie finally says yes, thinking that this may be a good chance to be “normal.” However, it’s a night that turns out to be anything but.
As I’ve said before, when a film gets remade, it’s usually because the people behind it have a new take on the material, making it different enough to warrant another version being released into theaters. This immediately begs the question as to why this latest rendition of “Carrie” was allowed to get made. It’s a nearly exact copy of the original film that makes so few changes to the story that you have to wonder why they didn’t just use the original screenplay and do a shot-for-shot remake along the lines of Gus Van Sant’s pointless “Psycho” replica.
With this being so similar to the original, the same problems pop up once again, mainly that the first hour or so of the film is completely forgettable. You do eventually get to the scenes that the story is most know for, and to their credit, they’re done admirably, though not without a bit of unintentional humor thrown in (There are times you’ll think Carrie is a magician with all the hand-waving she does). In this version, it’s not so much the ending that gets stretched out, but rather Carrie’s little rampage. When it comes to the ending though, you still get the same random, nonsensical bits that bogged the original version down. At the very least, this latest version doesn’t completely rip off the classic shock ending.
Chloe Grace Moretz, known to most as Hit-Girl from the “Kick Ass” films, does a decent job as the outcast young girl. She plays the role very low-key for the most part, much like Spacek did in 1976. In fact, they both play the part in such a way that they become one of the story’s more forgettable elements, at least for the vast majority of it. This time around, Julianne Moore steps into the role of the crazed mother, and while she doesn’t get quite to the level of nuttiness that Laurie reached, she still has her moments. She also does a fine job, but you can’t help the feeling that she too is trying a little too hard to be like her predecessor.
The film comes to us from director Kimberly Peirce, who previously directed the critically-acclaimed “Boys Don’t Cry” and the well-received “Stop-Loss,” and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, whose most notable work has been producing and writing for “Glee.” Apparently Aguirre-Sacasa had adapted King’s “The Stand” into a comic book a few years back, so he had a little experience with his material before at least. It’s rather amusing to see that since this version is so similar to the original, lifting many lines directly from it, the original’s writer was credited right alongside Aguirre-Sacasa. So much for finding a new take on the material.
So what was the actual motivation behind this completely pointless remake of King’s story? Well, it’s more than likely that they were just hoping to make a quick buck by throwing this rehashed adaptation into theaters right around Halloween. There was clearly very little thought that went into the final product. Even if they meant for it to be a more modern version, the most “modern” it gets is having one of the girls record Carrie’s panic attack on an iPhone and upload it to YouTube. In the end, if you absolutely have to see this story, you’re far better off renting the original and staying in for the night, though even then you’re not going to be in for that good of a film. 1.5/4 stars.
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