Is the latest “Carrie” a remake? This question keeps coming up every time I think about this film. It certainly is a twenty-first-century version of Stephen King’s story. Not to mention that this is the second time such a question could be asked during a Chloe Grace Moretz film. (For those not keeping track, Moretz was featured in “Let Me In” which followed the best vampire movie ever made, the Swedish-language “Let the Right One In,” and they both were based on the same source material.) It even has the same writer as Brian De Palma’s cult classic, Lawrence Cohen (who this time co-wrote the script with Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa), so one could even call it more of a retooling or even a reworking of King’s novel into the cinematic form.
Director Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry” and “Stop-Loss”) paints a familiar picture with “Carrie,” but she presents it in a much different way. Peirce’s version leans heavy on the mother/daughter relationship—presented for effect by a compilation of close ups—but it’s slated toward Carrie a lot more than De Palma’s depiction of the same source material. This feels like a fresh take, yet with such a legendary prelude, this film can’t help but feel like a rehash of already covered material; plus, De Palma’s version was closer to the book.
This “Carrie” does have elements that work however. The infamous opening sequence in the girl’s locker room is equally horrifying and hilarious. Julianne Moore plays Carrie’s mother in a unique way that’s crazier than Piper Laurie was in the 1976 feature, for Moore’s Margaret White comes across as a beyond repair religious zealot, whereas Laurie’s was more on the edge of sanity, and this distinction makes this film’s conclusion harder to swallow.
But what we’re all waiting for is those last 15-20 minutes anyway, aren’t we? We want to see the pig’s blood poured atop Prom Queen Carrie—and then her wrath. When all of this occurs, however, this is when one begs for restraint that never comes. De Palma used medium shots of Carrie and then zoomed to a close up of her face to indicate when her powers were coming out, but Peirce implies Moretz to use body contortions and actions that look like she’s using the Force to exude her telekinetic powers. And there are so many canted shots that it looks as if the entire film has come off its hinges; and sadly this would have worked if it wasn’t used so often.
Furthermore, every bell and whistle gets used for the film’s ultra-bloody violence. At times this over-the-top nature of “Carrie” works wonders, but more often than not, you’re asking yourself if it’s all needed. That might be a better summation of this feature than all of the words that came before.