In Review: Carrie

by Martyn Conterio on 28/11/2013


Kimberly Peirce’s take on Stephen King’s celebrated debut novel, Carrie, also a 1976 movie by Brian De Palma, doesn’t totally suck, to use an often espoused modern idiom, and neither is it totally rad (to borrow another popular phrase). On paper, it must have looked like a very intriguing idea: a remake of a classic by the sensitive director of Boys Don’t Cry (1999).

A wise frog once sang ‘it’s not easy being green’. Well, it’s no walk in the park being Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz). There are no perks to being a wallflower. She’s viciously bullied by her peers and her mum, Margaret White, played with twitchy authority by Julianne Moore, is crazier than a shithouse rat. Kindly gym teacher, Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer), means well but goes about expressing herself in a clumsy, off-putting manner.

When focused on the horrors of life: teenage vulnerability, the day-to-day miseries of enduring conformist cliques, arsey spoilt kids and their even arsier parents, and just feeling like you’re different from all the rest, Carrie is on solid ground. It is up front, too, with the notion our little darlings really can be little bastards. What the cool kids do to Carrie is vile. But do they all deserve to die? No. In fact, when it isn’t catering to the demands of the horror genre, the film is at its best. Unfortunately, Peirce wasn’t hired to make an indie drama about the sometimes awful trials and tribulations of high school loners and must deliver the telekinetic teen getting witchy at senior prom. Which is the moment it all goes wrong … for the film.

Moretz is surprisingly good in the lead role, with her quiet-as-a-church-mouse voice and nervous movements. The early scenes shared with Moore bristle with lunacy and tension, and one can sense the director’s great empathy for Carrie’s loneliness and wider social exclusion. Once the bucket of pig’s blood hits the prom queen’s head, Peirce goes into creative autopilot and delivers what is little more than a standard horror show with a poorly mounted climax. There is no shock factor or emotional pay-off. At all. Must try harder.

Martyn has awarded Carrie Three Torches of Truth

three torches

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