The poster tagline for Kimberly Pierce’s remake of “Carrie” says ‘You Will Know Her Name.’ But the problem is, most viewers already know her name. Most people born in the last thirty years have heard of Brian DePalma’s 1976 horror classic, if not seen it. And the ones most likely to have missed it would be the younger generation, but they are left out in the cold by the R-rating. Not that they would particularly want to see a remake of a film they’ve never heard of anyhow.
Director Kimberly Peirce has proven to be a capable storyteller in each of her previous feature films(“Stop-Loss”, “Boys Don’t Cry”) so it’s a wonder as to why she would want to remake a classic horror film for her third. On top of that, she lets another handle the writing duties: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who has penned episodes of HBO’s Big Love and Glee. This would be his first feature film screenplay.
This revisit sets the tone early, as the film opens with Julianne Moore writhing on a bed that is slightly covered in blood. She gives birth to Carrie, and at first contemplates killing the child, but she can’t bring herself to do it. The scene is fair warning that Moore is going to play this one over-the-top; every moment is rather melodramatic, and there isn’t even a hint of normalcy in her Margaret. While Margaret only leaves the house for one or two scenes, it’s very clear that she’s incapable of functioning normally in a social setting.
At least Chloe Grace Moretz plays Carrie with a little more subtlety. The shower scene is exaggerated, but it does seem to match the original in tone(although it does seem to go on considerably longer). Grace Moretz does seem to mellow out a little bit after that, at least until the blood starts to spill(yes, pun intended).
At first listen, the use of Vampire Weekend’s “Diane Young” seems really out of place(well, the mini dressing-for-prom montage is out of place). But upon second thought, it’s really a rather genius placement if you consider the lyrics. It’s just one of the few inspired moments in this “Carrie” remake. Aside from one or two sweet kills, the infamous prom scene relies on too much computer generation. And when a gas station goes up in a big explosion, one wonders if Carrie could take on the “Man of Steel” to see who could do the most municipal damage. And the actual pig’s blood moment is marred by one of the single worst choices in editing in a movie this year.
That’s the thing about “Carrie.” People know the Stephen King novel, and people already know the original film adaptation. So the only way to watch the same story done again is playing the waiting game, waiting for prom night to arrive. And of course, it’s plenty of fun to watch the bullies getting their comeuppance once again. But is it fun enough to watch all the nonsense that comes before? With all the six-pack abs and five o’clock shadows going on, this high school is nothing like a real high school setting. Carrie doesn’t even spend any time doing homework when she’s in study hall. As a matter of fact, this is starting to sound a lot more like the setting of Glee. Cue Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa!
And what’s with the late addition of Lawrence D. Cohen’s name to the screenplay(it was absent in the trailers)? Did they call in the original “Carrie” screenwriter to do a polish? Doubtful: it seems so much is lifted from the original(including word-for-word lines of dialogue) that they would have to include his name on the screenplay. Heck, why didn’t they just shoot from the original screenplay?
In the age of cellular phones, Sue Snell still runs off to the prom to try to stop the climactic prank on “Carrie”, even when her boyfriend texts her mere scenes earlier. Why? Because the story requires it! To heck with logic! But then again, that’s putting too much thought into this “Carrie” remake. Obviously more thought than most of the filmmakers put into it.