Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Is This A Remake Of The 1976 Brian De Palma Movie? No, it's a remake of the 1987 Europe song. Jesus.
Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: Two Coal Miner's Daughters out of five.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Sheltered young girl blossoms into womanhood. With extreme prejudice.
Tagline: "You will know her name."
Better Tagline: "And if her day keeps going this way she just might
Break your fuckin' face tonight."
Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Painfully shy Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) has always stood out, what with her homemade clothes and ignorance of reproductive health. The situation is exacerbated when she has her first period in the gym shower and, unaware of what's happening, is cruelly ridiculed by her fellow students. Her mother (Julianne Moore) insists Carrie has sinned, while popular girl Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) feels remorse, compelling boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) to ask Carrie to the prom. It's a sweet idea, except that Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), suspended because of her role in mocking Carrie, has revenge plans. And did I mention that Carrie can move objects ... *with her mind?*
Before We Begin, Is There Anything You Felt Like You Left Out Of Your Captain Phillips Review? I'm so glad you asked. I had actually jotted in my notes after the screening that I wished his first name had been "Wilson" instead of "Richard," that way he could've spent his captivity muttering about "holding on, for one more day."
That's ... Terrible: Hey, you asked.
"Critical" Analysis: I'm not angry, I'm disappointed. Were I Margaret White, I might force director Kimberly Peirce to spend a few hours in the prayer closet. As it is, I'm mostly saddened by the fact she took what ended up being the easy way out.
The original Carrie is, like so many classic horror movies, more or less completely ingrained in our collective subconscious. The climactic prom scene is as recognizable as the chestburster from Alien or Jason's hockey mask, having been referenced in everything from The X-Files to Gilmore Girls. It's essentially a punch line, which is why Peirce and screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa(cannibalizing Lawrence Cohen's original script) should have taken things in a different direction, or at least gone bigger.
Instead, they do neither. This new Carrie isn't a shot-for-shot remake like Gus Van Sant's Psycho (social media adds an unpleasant dimension to Chris Hargenson's torment of Carrie, for example), but it's close. Peirce's style is more straightforward than De Palma's, to be sure, but apart from YouTube and the use of cell phones, I saw few differences from the 1976 version. We do get to see Carrie's harrowing birth, and the climactic scene in the White home sticks closer to Stephen King's novel, but that was about it.
In fact, I was mildly surprised when I heard Peirce would be directing this. She'd previously helmed the fantastic Boys Don't Cry in 1999 (and the uneven Stop Loss nine years later), but on the surface it made sense: one of Peirce's strengths is framing violence in the context of family, and the Whites offer plenty of opportunities for havoc.
Or so you'd think, because everything old - in terms of telekinetic teenage mayhem - is new again. The prom scene is nearly identical, as is Carrie's final vehicular confrontation with Chris and Billy Nolan (not counting some truly atrocious CGI). I hate to say it, but I wanted more. In the book, the newly telekinetic Carrie lashes out at those who have been victimizing her for years and essentially destroys the entire town. A proportional response? You must not remember high school very well. Frankly, more proms should end that way.
Then again, Carrie was one of the first anti-bullying novels out there (efforts to suppress bullying are one of the results of the so-called "Black Prom"). I don't know, maybe Screen Gems was afraid of inspiring copycats. Because, you know, telekinetic ability is the biggest threat facing our schools.
When it comes down to it, I wanted to like Carrie a lot more than I did. Moore and Judy Greer (as gym teacher Ms. Desjardin) are great, and Moretz is fine (I couldn't help wanting her to Hit Girl the shit out of her mother, though). Elgort bears watching as well, but nobody else really stands out (you can look forward to seeing Wilde in the upcoming Endless Love remake, so that's something).
And I must say I was happy to see -- almost 40 years down the road -- that Billy Nolan is still wearing leather jackets and driving a muscle car. Is that still a thing?
Carrie is in theaters today. Maybe you could take that quiet girl from school? The one with the weird mother?