(US - 2013)
Directed by Kimberly Peirce. Written by Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Gabriella Wilde, Alex Russell, Ansel Elgort, Barry Shabaka Henley, Hart Bochner, Zoe Belkin, Samantha Weinstein. (R, 98 mins)
(SPOILERS DISCUSSED THROUGHOUT)
The latest Hollywood horror remake is as unnecessary as you'd expect, despite the involvement of BOYS DON'T CRY and STOP-LOSS director Kimberly Peirce, helming just her third film in 14 years. Considering how little she brings to the table here, one must be forced to assume that she simply needed the money. This "re-imagining" of the 1974 Stephen King novel and 1976 Brian De Palma film (there was also a 2002 made-for-TV remake, and the less said about 1999's THE RAGE: CARRIE 2, the better) is about as perfunctory and go-through-the-motions as it gets, remaining watchable and never dull but also never justifying its existence. It utilizes enough of the 1976 film that its screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen shares a presumably WGA-mandated credit with playwright Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who must share the blame with Peirce for its complete collapse in the home stretch.
"They're all gonna laugh at you!" refrain. This problem occurs time and again throughout CARRIE '13. Everything effective under De Palma is neutered or outright absent here. But could it have turned out any other way?
Hart Bochner sighting!) unsuccessfully tries to throw his weight around with the principal (Barry Shabaka Henley) after his daughter is suspended from school, and gym teacher Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer) gets her original name back and survives Carrie's prom rampage (Betty Buckley played her as "Miss Collins" and got killed), but they also make the curious decision to tone down the character of Margaret. This could be because Piper Laurie played it just crazy enough without going over-the-top that Moore saw no way to improve on it from that angle. Moore is fine in the role, but Margaret is really less of a menace here than she is in the 1976 film and in the book. In King and De Palma, Margaret fears her daughter but also despises her and her burgeoning womanhood, "the blood," and "the boys who come sniffing like dogs, grinning and slobbering to find out where that smell is." Laurie's interpretation of the character was intimidating and terrifying, where Moore plays Margaret as more overprotective and demonstrates far more affection than she shows in the book or in Laurie's Oscar-nominated performance.
BADLANDS and Robert Altman in 1977's 3 WOMEN (even MAY star and horror/cult figure Angela Bettis, in the 2002 version, has an unusual look to her to that made her a believable Carrie). Moretz looks gorgeous even when she's trying not to be. By the time we get to the prom rampage, Moretz's Carrie starts behaving like someone who's seen CARRIE. Instead of slowly walking through the gym and wreaking her vengeance, Moretz has been directed to wildly contort and symphonically gesticulate with wild-eyed abandon, looking more like a villain in the climax of an X-MEN movie than Carrie.
Pino Donaggio cues in the 1976 version. All it really adds are newer fashions, cell phones, Chris posting a video of the shower incident on YouTube, and one already-dated mention of Tim Tebow. De Palma's film is one that's been talked about and revered for nearly 40 years. Will anyone remember this remake 40 days from now?