Tuesday, 26 November 2013
By Guest Reviewer Aaron J. Smith.
Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a lonely and shy teenage girl struggling to cope with an abusive, overbearing and deeply religious mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore). That would be bad enough if it weren’t for the fact that Carrie, like most girls her age, is also having to deal with a rapidly developing womanhood; how to relate to boys; and discovering that she possesses awesome telekinetic powers. Okay, so that last one is a fun rarity.
Carrie suffers an embarrassing incident in the school showers, and is ridiculed by her nasty classmates, led by the school alpha bitch, Chris Hargensen (played with unsettling ease by Portia Doubleday), and Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde). Chris films the incident and posts it on online, which results in a falling out with the more conscientious Sue.
Ms. Desjardin, the well-meaning gym teacher (the always good, Judy Greer), punishes Chris with school suspension meaning she cannot attend the all-important senior prom. With help from her deadbeat boyfriend, Billy Nolan (Aussie actor, Alex Russell), Chris devises a bloody and callous prank to get back at Carrie, blaming her victim for the punishment she’s been dealt and sewing the seeds of what is to come; for as Chris's rage grows so, too, does Carrie's powers.
If you’re unfamiliar with Carrie’s story, then perhaps you’ll benefit the most from this ‘re-imagining’ of the best-selling Stephen King novel, which has seen two other screen interpretations (and an off-Broadway musical). Brian De Palma’s 1976 version, starring Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, is in my Top 5 films of all time; I can’t comment on the 2002 made for TV movie, as I have never bothered to see it.
Director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry (1999); Stop-Loss 2008)) could have easily gotten carried away with a ‘bigger is better’ attitude to justify a Carrie update. Instead, Peirce focuses on believable characterisations and keeps the special effects and gore from going too over the top. Thankfully, Peirce also wisely chooses not to mimic the style of the 1976 original. I would have walked out if the director had copied the fantastic ‘twirling at the prom’ sequence. The great dialogue is still there though (and I still laughed when Margaret refers to breasts as ‘dirty pillows’).
Julianne Moore provides an enjoyably nutty Margaret White in a slightly restrained performance, but the film would have benefited greatly if Margaret was a little more threatening towards her naïve and curious daughter.
Chloe Grace Moretz does an admirable job in the title role (one made iconic by a young Sissy Spacek), but she can’t quite shake off the cuteness of her physical appearance to portray the vengeful rage the climax requires. Moretz is most effective, however, in her scenes with Ansel Elgort who plays Tommy Ross, the sweet and sympathetic boyfriend of Sue, who, in a gesture of good will, escorts Carrie to the prom.
The age-old issue of bullying (and the more timely cyber bullying) adds purpose to the story, helping to contemporise this classic horror tale. But while this Carrie is worth seeing, it won’t be the version I’ll be returning to time and again.