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Carrie

tn_carrie13carryoncarrieLike THE RAGE, the 2013 remake of CARRIE is directed by a woman. This one comes courtesy of Kimberly Peirce of BOYS DON’T CRY and STOP-LOSS fame. The screenplay is credited to two men, Lawrence D. Cohen (GHOST STORY) and Robert Aguirre-Sacasa (THE TOWN THAT DREADED SUNDOWN remake). The weird thing is that Cohen wrote the DePalma version, and this is his first credit in 9 years, so I don’t know if that means they started from an old-screenplay base. It kinda seems like it. It doesn’t do its own thing as much as I’d like. It’s not DePalma, but it’s not a drastically different take either, so I’m not sure how much the female perspective was able/allowed to add in this instance.

Part of the fun of a remake or re-adaptation is seeing who they have playing the different roles. There are some familiar actors in the leads here. Chloe Grace Moretz (TODAY YOU DIE) plays Carrie, and she’s the first actual teenager to ever play the character on screen. At 15 I believe she’s actually younger than Carrie was in the book, and there’s something to be said for authentic youthfulness in this role. Julianne Moore (ASSASSINS) is Margaret White, because of course she is. It would have to be her. Judy Greer, known for thankless roles in every major movie of the last few summers, actually gets things to do in the Betty Buckley role as the sympathetic gym teacher.

I was not familiar with the young actors playing the do-gooder couple of Sue and Tommy. Sue is Gabriella Wilde, a tall blond model who was in the Paul W.S. Anderson THREE MUSKETEERS, and Tommy is boyish Ansel Elgort, a rookie actor who has since been in the DIVERGENT series of trailers that seem to come out every few months, was the boy lead in THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and reportedly on the short list to play Young Han Solo in I HAVE A BAD FEELING ABOUT THIS: THE ADVENTURES OF ALL NEW HAN SOLO. Both actors won me over after initial skepticism. Meanie blood-dumper Chris Hargensen is played by Portia Doubleday, who I know from looking like Amanda Sieyfried on that tv show Mr. Robot. (She was also the surrogate date in HER, and her older sister Kaitlin plays Rhonda, the only major white character on Empire.) Chris’s bad boy boyfriend Billy Nolan (Travolta’s character) is Alex Russell, who I guess was in CHRONICLE and later Angelina Jolie’s UNBROKEN.

I think the main reason this remake didn’t seem to blow anybody away is that it doesn’t do anything drastic to distance itself from DePalma’s approach. But it’s fair to consider it a re-adaptation instead of a remake. It has some bits that are clearly based on the ’76 movie, like the montage of the kids getting dressed up before the prom (the boys even try on ’70s style ruffled shirts) and even the hanging star decorations at the dance, but those could be considered homages to what has come before. There are also ways it goes back to the book. They use King’s name for the school, Ewen High School, and his name for the gym teacher, Miss Desjardin. They have Carrie leaving the prom and doing some damage to the town, as well as Sue not being at the prom and coming to find Carrie later as she’s dying. They have the scene I talked about that’s in the TV version, where Chris’s lawyer dad comes to threaten the principal (Barry Shabaka Henley, MIAMI VICE, FEAR OF A BLACK HAT) to fire Miss Desjardin. Her dad is real sleazy, real douchey. He seems like the kind of guy that would brag that he negotiates million dollar deals for brea–

Wait a minute.

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Holy shit. Yeah. That’s Hart Bochner. That’s fuckin Ellis! Chris Hargensen’s dad is Ellis. That makes so much sense.

They also bring in the rocks falling from the sky into the house, but they combine it with the climax instead of having it as a separate childhood incident.

mp_carrie13Ironically there’s one element of the book that totally fits with modern filmmaking trends, and has never quite been adapted, including in this one. As I mentioned in the review of the tv movie, the book is full of book excerpts, AP wire reports and testimony transcripts that could easily be adapted into quasi-documentary elements throughout the film. I’m actually surprised and relieved that they didn’t do that. It works well in the book but I think wouldn’t work as well cinematically. (They do have one tiny scene at the very end where Sue is testifying at some sort of hearing, and it does sound like they shot some other scenes like that, judging by this insanely detailed petition for an extended cut that scrutinizes post test-screening changes like it’s the fuckin JFK assassination.)

I tried listening to a horror podcast comparing DePalma’s CARRIE to Peirce’s. They kept disgustedly mentioning that this movie had Youtube in it. I had to turn it off after one of the hosts complained that they were trying to make this appeal to teens. It’s a funny thing about horror fans: we get hooked when we’re young, watching movies designed to appeal to us. Then as soon as we get a little older we kneejerk-reject new movies we think might be aimed at that age group, similar to the way kids turn 10 or 11 and decide that cartoons are for babies. Yeah, we love HALLOWEEN, ELM STREET, maybe SCREAM and other movies about high schoolers, but that was different. When they do it now it’s just some teen bullshit. God damn teens!

Well, this is a movie about high school, and the heightened emotions you feel at that age, and in some sense I feel like I’ve outgrown the story. So it makes perfect sense to me that they slightly alter it to reflect the lives of 2013 kids. Of course they have Youtube. Of course they have phones. It doesn’t seem like gimmicky tech exploitation, something that will seem dated soon. It’s organic. When Chris records the infamous “plug it up” period-in-the-locker-room-shower and then posts it online it seems believable and echoes real life bullying cases that have ended in (admittedly non-psychic) tragedy. Text messaging between the characters is realistic and casual, and subtly separates the modern, normal kids from the archaic lifestyle Carrie’s mom forces on her. Playing the footage of the shower incident on screens at the prom compounds the embarrassment and underlines that the bucket of blood is a reference to her menstruation humiliation. A cruel reminder that although she’s moved on from that day these pricks have not.

Well, now they’ll always remember Carrie for something else besides having her period.

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Unsurprisingly, Peirce also takes advantage of modern technology in the making of the movie. The attack on the prom is more detailed, with sparking cables dancing around like snakes, people (including Carrie) being lifted off the ground, dancers and objects being blown away by a tidal wave of telekinetic energy, and when she wrecks the town and blows up a gas station and stuff it’s much better FX than in the tv movie. The actual bucket dump might just be a real bucket dump, I’m not sure, but they re-show it from three angles like a Jackie Chan stunt. Then there’s a cool effect where blood is flying up off of her as she stalks the stage, scaring the shit out of everybody.

Actually the most impressive bit looks like a real stunt. One of these girls drags her pretty dress in fire, then spins around in slow motion, a flaming pirouette.

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But Peirce saves the best death for Chris. Remember, in DePalma’s take Carrie causes Chris and Billy’s car to flip. In this one she stands in the road and stops the car HELLBOY style, and Billy graphically bangs his head on the steering wheel. But Chris survives the initial car crash, so Carrie makes her seatbelt come up and start strangling her. Then she decides no, I should kill her by having her not wear a seatbelt. So she picks up and drops the car and this happens:

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I mean, you gotta respect that. That’s in the movie. I can’t write off a movie that has an effects shot that nasty in it.

I gotta give it up to Doubleday, who really earns that death for Chris. She makes her really despicable; bitter, hateful and delusionally convinced that she is the wronged party here. As in the book there seems to be something kinky and fucked up in her relationship with Billy, who is suspiciously good at killing a pig in one swing and suspiciously ready to leave town for good the second the school catches on fire. I don’t know if he even gets his go-bag. This super-villainous vibe makes the bullying less universally relatable than it could be, but it works for the story.

Of course, Margaret White is the more iconic villain of the story. I can’t quite say Moore’s version of her is sympathetic, because she’s so crazy and judgmental, but she’s a tragic figure. That it opens with her in terror about giving birth (which the TV movie also did, but here it’s longer and more graphic) makes you feel sorry for her. She’s also a cutter, and will repeatedly bang her head against the wall when she’s upset at Carrie.

Carrie does care about her. Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome, or low self esteem. But it’s pretty sad when she’s carry/floating her mother’s corpse, crying about wanting her back, this woman who has treated her so horribly, who literally believed she was a witch and who she killed only in self defense.

Even before that there’s a nice mother-daughter moment in the scene where Tommy comes to pick Carrie up for the prom and she locks her mom in the closet to avoid being embarrassed by her. In this version Margaret is screaming and pounding to get out, so Carrie turns on a radio playing old timey religious songs. It could be to mask the sounds when she opens the door but it also could be meant as an act of kindness to let her mom listen to the songs she likes while she’s locked in there. It’s not like she turned on Hot 97.

Elgort as Tommy is probly the best casting in the movie. He’s a more down-to-earth kind of hunky than William Katt was, but has a really good chemistry with Moretz. You can see how he could charm her into trusting him. He seems like a cool guy.

Later, when the shit (well, pig’s blood) goes down, this Tommy angrily yells, “What the hell!?” But then the story demands he stand there uncomfortably long before the bucket falls and hits him on the head. After seeing all these takes on it it starts to bother me that he doesn’t do anything. The character that we’ve come to know would be more protective of Carrie, and go after whoever did this like he did the asshole teacher who made fun of her in class. But he hesitates too long. Only the DePalma version, with all its slow motion, makes sense out of it. We see it slow, but it happens too fast.

By the way, the book is the only version where Carrie explicitly killed Tommy. Here it was definitely the bucket. If you think about it it’s really a major change, because if she kills Tommy that means she believes Sue and Tommy, the people who really were trying to be nice to her, were just setting her up for this humiliation, and that’s why she lashes out at everybody. In this version she’s getting revenge in part because their prank killed Tommy. She knows he was sincere. It takes some of the messiness out of the situation, part of what makes it uncomfortable, but because we like Tommy it works, it’s still a tragic death. Also, she still blames Sue for what happens, because “Why couldn’t you leave me alone?” and “Look what you turned me into!”

There’s alot I find interesting about this remake, but there’s a major thing that sinks it. Moretz gives it a shot, and I think she’s best in the scenes at home with her mother, where she’s quiet and timid and managing to never seem like she’s imitating Spacek’s interpretation at all. (Maybe she’s too young to be very familiar with it.) But in my opinion she is miscast. Try as she might to hide it, Moretz has the aura of a girl who has been the center of attention for her entire life, and is just not believable as a shy kid who doesn’t fit in at school. Of course, bullying doesn’t always have the same reasoning, and a traditionally good looking or outgoing kid can be hated by somebody just the same as a weirdo. Maybe they could’ve found a way to interpret it so that Chris just has an irrational mean girl hatred of Carrie not based on looks and socializing, with more of her secondary motives of not wanting to admit her own wrongdoing and claiming to feel judged by Carrie’s religion. But this movie wants Carrie to be a socially awkward outcast, and the story requires a makeover. So they rat up Moretz’s hair, give her frumpy sweaters and have her hunch over and bug her eyes out, and to me it’s hard to forget that it’s an actor playing dressup.

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Moretz says on the making-of featurette that she’s been bullied before, but Peirce later mentions that it was for being famous and successful. Not to disregard her experience, but obviously that’s pretty different from what Carrie goes through. And that’s okay too, she is an actor, but in my opinion she wasn’t able to completely pull this one off.

By the way, the Carrie of the book is described as being a little chubby, and in all the versions the asshole kids compare her to the pig that they’re killing. Maybe if they ever remake this again they should get a Carrie with a little meat on her bones.

I also don’t really buy the transformation into killer Carrie. Instead of being in a spooky trance like Spacek, Moretz waves her arms around like a dancer or a conductor, somewhat gleeful about what she’s doing. It’s a pretty big leap for the character and not a very sympathetic one.

The book ends with a scene about a little girl, entirely unrelated to Carrie, who exhibits telekinetic powers. In King’s world this is a rare occurrence but not a freak one, it will keep happening, and continue to be a potential danger in a world where people can’t be trusted not to be a bunch of fucking assholes to each other. Peirce’s film has kind of a cyclical spin on the story that’s more hopeful. She opens with the horrific scene of Carrie’s birth. Margaret is screaming for help from God, and much like Carrie with her first period she seems to think she’s dying, ignorant of what’s happening to her body. Then she almost stabs Carrie with a pair of scissors, but stops herself. As a newborn Carrie couldn’t have seen or known what’s happening, but it’s still a fucked up way to be welcomed into the world.

Much later there’s a scene where Sue suddenly gets sick, implying that she’s pregnant. Carrie later confirms this, telling her that it’s a girl and sparing her life because of it. We don’t hear anything more about it, but the implication of course is that Sue, like Margaret White, will have to raise a girl by herself. But I have faith that Sue will do a better job.

* * *

I’ve enjoyed comparing these different takes on the story, because it’s good enough and simple enough to hold up through multiple interpretations. The basic rituals of teenagerdom have stayed about the same, while the culture continues to change so that updates can add new, contemporary trappings. The only problem is that the first adaptation is so good, so filmatistically potent, and so iconic in our culture that it seems unlikely or impossible that anyone will ever make another version that can step out from under its shadow. Or at least it hasn’t been done yet.

After going through the story in four(ish) incarnations I think the aspect that seems a little dated is the makeover. Miss Desjarden shows Carrie that she’s pretty. Comb your hair and put on makeup, you’ll be one of them. But what if she didn’t clean up well? Or what if she was gay or didn’t fit in for some other reason that can’t be covered up with makeup? Then she wouldn’t even get that one nice night before dying. But I guess maybe that’s part of the point. Miss Desjarden is being nice, but she’s putting the emphasis on the fairy tale. Dressing up and participating in the fantasy instead of being happy with who you are despite what those assholes think. In a way, Carrie going to the prom is just George telling Lennie about the rabbits. It keeps her happy and distracted before it all ends. Sue is the popular girl. She wants to help, but she only knows to do it through the medium of the popular girls, the school dance. And that’s not gonna work. She would’ve had to go outside the system.

But I don’t know, it always feels to me like we’re supposed to believe in the institution of the nerd-to-babe makeover, even if it doesn’t work this time. I don’t think it’s a denunciation.

Another thing that started to strike me: crazy fuckin Margaret White is actually right about most things (other than Bible quotes). They all are going to laugh at Carrie. She is being tricked. She should stay home and pray and burn her dress rather than go where she’s gonna end up killing hundreds of people. In fact, if Margaret had “not suffered a witch to live” any of the various times she contemplated killing her daughter, she would’ve saved scores of lives including her own. She would’ve been a hero. That kind of messes me up to think about that. I don’t want to be on her side.

hargensenI’m not sure if this story has a coherent moral, or if it needs to. Obviously don’t be like Chris and the other mean bully kids. If you do you’ll get punished. (By the way, are there kids now who would be willing to butcher a pig and save its blood for a prank? I think that would be considered even more extreme now, not just for cruelty but for amount of effort and planning.)

It’s designed so we identify most with Carrie, and she doesn’t do anything wrong… but then she kills everybody and then kills her mom and then dies. So we don’t want to be like Carrie. It seems like we should be like Sue and Tommy and Miss Desjarden, the nice people who try to help someone who’s being picked on. Particularly Sue, who recognizes her own bad behavior and goes out of her way to make amends for it. That is a quality we should respect. But these characters are punished just as much as anybody. There is no way to navigate this situation and expect a positive outcome. If you’re in high school, you’re fucked.

King, who was still in his twenties when he wrote the book, was able to really capture those raw teenage feelings of not knowing how to fit in, of dealing with mean kids or with your parents who don’t want you to do what you want to do, and of every bit of drama being the end of the world.

Because of that there’s one subtle addition to Peirce’s version that I think is pretty powerful. In the book and all adaptations there’s some trepidation as they arrive at the prom. “All of them turned to look at Tommy and Carrie when they came in, and for a moment there was a stiff, awkward silence.” In all versions Tommy runs into a friend and they play fight and/or high five each other, and the friend’s date says some variation on King’s line, “If they kill each other, I’ll dance with you.”

(The book is the only version where Carrie makes a joke back, and is thrilled to get a smile out of it. Movie Carries don’t know how to joke.)

Then they talk about dresses and Carrie surprises them by saying she made hers. She says it kind of embarrassed, it’s a sign of poverty, but to her surprise it seems to impress everybody. In this version Tommy’s “best buddy George Dawson” (Demetrius Joyette, Degrassi: The Next Generation) and his girlfriend Erica (Mouna Traore, Hemlock Grove) are instantly, genuinely accepting of Carrie, and here’s the crucial detail: Erica goes to a different school. She doesn’t know anything about “Creepy Carrie” or “plug it up,” she’s just meeting a girl who must be cool because George’s friend likes her and she made her own dress and she seems nice.

With this scene, Peirce’s version is saying that whatever these kids have against you growing up, going to school together, teaming up against you, there’s a whole world of people out there who don’t know any of that shit, who will meet you for the first time and see you for who you are now. The “it gets better” message. One we wish Carrie could’ve had more time to learn about.

CARRIE is a story that lends itself to retellings for new generations. If they keep making ’em I’ll keep watching ’em for the little touches like this. And who knows, maybe some day they can find somebody else to do it with a knockout combination of filmatistic chops and finger-on-the-pulseness like DePalma had.

It could happen. Maybe. I don’t know.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Friday, April 15th, 2016 at 10:32 am and is filed under Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

24 Responses to “Carrie”

  1. Crushinator Jones

    April 15th, 2016 at 10:56 am

    I was really lukewarm on this series but you made me appreciate it. I’ve seen De Palma’s version but none of the others – I will check them out. Thanks for the series, Vern.

  2. Whew, you’re a lot more forgiving of this one than I was. This feels to me like a Platinum Dunes remake of CARRIE — what would happen if we replaced everything stylish and iconic in De Palma’s version with slick, disposable, expensive but soulless versions of the same thing. And I hate to say it but I thought Julianne Moore was straight-up embarrassing in this, going really broad right up to the point of camp, but without any of the entertainment that usually brings. Obviously Moore can be a great actress sometimes, but I thought she’s even more miscast than Mortiz here, and obviously floundering without some strong direction.

    One other thing kills this for me: “updating” this story flat out does not work. In the 70’s, this made sense, but I just don’t buy that this story takes place this way in the modern world. I don’t buy these pretty, stylish Hollywood people in this supposed small town, I don’t buy that Carrie’s mom can afford rent on her storefront and a two-story house and still be this crazy, I don’t buy that kids would go out to a farm and kill a pig to get its blood, I don’t buy that Carrie doesn’t know about periods. Not in this day and age. I know her mom is real strict, but the modern world is simply inescapable today, small town and religious mom or no, people are just more savvy than that. It all seems completely contrived and anachronistic and haphazard, like they took an old story and tried to think of a way to add cell phones to it, not like they seriously tried to tell a story they found relevant to today’s youth. Mortiz is all wrong for the part, but I don’t think it was really playable the way it’s written. A modern teen just straight-up would not act like this, and yet the script requires her to both be a thoroughly modern teen and behave like a teen from nearly a half-century ago.

    I take that to be a matter of intent. Nobody here seems to have any idea why this is being made or even what its fundamentally about (outside the need to remake it because it’s, you know, a name that people have heard of before). Which is no surprise, because it doesn’t have any reason to exist. No real story changes, no new perspective, just added cell phones and unconvincing CG. Without the original De Palma version, this would still be a pathetic joke; WITH the De Palma version, its existence is nothing short of an insult. Basically, I hated this fucking movie.

  3. Yeah, thanks, Vern! Every CARRIE other than the original has looked terrible to me so I’ve avoided them, and it was good to vicariously experience them through the eyes of someone I trust without having to actually watch them myself.

    I think something that is often overlooked by the people who greenlight new CARRIEs is how important to the success of the original De Palma’s visual style was. Sure we can all talk about how her flipout at Prom is a metaphor for school shootings or whatever, but let’s be honest, that’s not what we care about as audience members. What we remember is how fuckin’ cool that sequence is because of the split screens and the artistic staging and the teacher who catches on fire and then slams against the wall which goes up in a sheet of flame so we get a badass silhouette shot of Carrie looking iconic. Yes, we want it to be directed by someone who gets a good performance out of the actors and gets us to emotionally identify with Carrie. But we also want it to be a movie with awesome movie visuals.

    You know who would actually be perfect for directing a CARRIE? Zack Snyder. 1) He is a teenager 2) That prom sequence would be a thing of wonder.

    Anyway, it’s so good to see Hart Bochner again. I love (to hate) that guy (onscreen).

  4. Completing a thought I left unfinished: having a lot of CGI stuff fx is not a substitute for having a real visual artist’s eye for composing a shot and crafting a cool sequence. I find that in today’s movies a lot of times action/FX sequences feel very anonymous and bland because they’re crafted by a team of pre-viz artists, so there isn’t really a single authorial voice. De Palma may have not been able to do even a tenth of the cool shit we can do nowadays but there’s no question that he designed that sequence personally because it feels like one visual artist’s distinct vision. And it’s what we all remember about the movie.

  5. I thought this would be a plausible remake since Chloe whats her face is way more awkward looking and aloof than Sissy ever was. Like I could buy kids picking on her over prime era Sissy Spacek who was pretty cute and “regular” for her time but boy it sure sounds like it didn’t turn out that way. Seems like a hot mess.

  6. For some reason I had some hope for this one just based on the casting. I’ve been a Moretz fan since I saw her go toe-to-toe with Jack Fuckin’ Donagy on 30 ROCK and not give an inch, so I at least wanted to see her tackle the destructive walk home that wasn’t in the original. Turns out I was wrong and she was really miscast. It’s not even that she’s too pretty or glamorous. She’s too confident. It’s what made her an instant movie star but it’s also a very exterior, Tom Cruise-y kind of acting that doesn’t make you wonder what’s going on beneath the surface. Which is fine for plenty of roles but not this one.

    But mostly, as everyone else mentioned, it’s just too much the same movie. It’s clearly made for people experiencing the story for the first time, not fans of the original. It’s not a companion piece or an update, it’s a replacement.

    In a way, though, isn’t this what the #NotMySuperman people want? No liberties have been taken with the story and characters everyone knows. No new interpretations of events need to be adjusted to. No blasphemies whatsoever, just pure slavish reverence for what has come before. It is all exactly as you remember, just recast and a bit shinier. Yet it clearly doesn’t work. So maybe a little sacrilege is actually the way to go.

  7. You’re absolutely correct about Chloe Moretz, Vern… she’s far too pretty to be playing Carrie White. In every previous incarnation, Carrie’s a pallid, nondescript girl who’s not going to merit a second look from any guy. I know it’s trite to reduce the strength (of lack of it) of any potential appeal she has to her appearance, but within the context of the story it’s a must. She’s SUPPOSED to be the girl who gets routinely ignored in high school, much less invited to the prom by a hunk like Tommy. Having a babe like Moretz play her puts the whole movie on shaky ground from the start.

    In retrospect, I think Shailene Woodley would’ve been a better choice:

  8. Great series of reviews, Vern.

    Carrie, the first film, holds a special place in my heart as it was my first De Palma film and my introduction to Stephen King at the tender age of ten. And as a child who was regularly coming home from schools with new bruises, cuts, torn clothes and even soaked in piss, I felt an immediate connection to Carrie White.

    However, I really dislike this version. It’s not offensively bad. Just boring and bland.

    Take the scene where Carrie is getting ready for the prom and Margaret comes in. It’s pretty much the same dialogue but the execution is so different. In De Palma’s film, the ceiling is low, the lighting is low-key, and the camera is canted and wide-lens so that Carrie is always above Margaret in frame. It is foreboding and it makes Margaret (who is a depraved, vicious lunatic) weak, vulnerable and slightly sympathetic.

    In this version, the room is softly lit, and the camera is level and at eye level. It does the job but my God is it lacking in atmosphere.

    The character of Carrie felt off in this one too. In the original, Carrie’s killing spree is the result of a scared, angry girl lashing out in all directions. This Carrie seems to take sadistic delight in murdering others. Plus, the jazz hands made it hard to take seriously.

    Also, while I will never accuse Moretz or Moore of being poor actors but it felt like this was a paycheque job. They said the lines with appropriate gravitas, collected their wage and left to do something that they felt was more interesting.

    Finally, because I don’t want to go on all night criticising, and I don’t sound too much like a misery guts, I will applaud some aspects of the film. Judy Greer was nothing short of excellent. I wish the film expanded on the relationship between her and Carrie. A positive, female role model in Carrie’s life. And, I have to give credit to this film for expanding on the character on Tommy. As much as I like William Katt, I think this Tommy was better developed.

  9. Majestyk you make it sound like Gus Van Sant’s PSYCHO. Which I unlike the rest of the world I actually kinda enjoyed despite being a fan of the original. Sure it was no PSYCHO III but at least it wasn’t PSYCHO IV (A.K.A. BATES MOTEL ver 1.0) either.

  10. Yeah, the way Mortiz plays Carrie really changes the tenor of the final rampage from a wild-eyed, instinctual lashing-out to a straight up revenge mass killing. While it’s certainly enjoyable to see Chris’s face stuck in a windshield, it’s exactly that instinct to “ooh, let’s put in a really over-the-top death” which defeats the entire tragic character of the climax and makes it feel generic and disposable.

  11. Actually, if it was a shot-for-shot remake, it probably would have been better, because at least it would have emulated De Palma’s style and pacing along with everything else.

  12. The film doesn’t reach out to its teen audience the way De Palma’s does. That’s partly because the tenor is less pure (it transposes whole dialogue passages from the original film, 35-years past their sell-by date), and partly because, as mentioned above, the final acts of violence aren’t an out-of-control emotional outpouring this time, but calculated vengeance. It’s a lot less felt, because it plays into the establishment, while De Palma’s movie was responding to it.

  13. caruso_stalker217

    April 15th, 2016 at 3:29 pm

    Like most of you I didn’t hate this film, but I dismissed it pretty fucking hard. It is the worst kind of remake. It’s basically the script for De Palma’s film with a few modern touches like cell phones and the internets thrown in to “update” it. But then they present Carrie as some bizarre throwback to the mid-20th century, which is laughably wrong and sticks out like a sore thumb.

    A lot of the dialogue is recycled from the original film, so it’s really no fun watching Julianne Moore and Hit Girl in their scenes together when we’ve already seen better performances of the same material. Moore has a pretty thankless job here. Piper Laurie’s Margaret White is such a convincing fucking nutjob I can’t imagine anyone filling her shoes successfully.

    So overall the film is pretty unnecessary. Not offensively bad, but pointless.

  14. The ‘it gets better’ is a nice insight Vern. High school was a mixed bag for me. I was a short, chubby little fucker early on, with an asthma inhaler in one pocket and a packet of sticky Lifesavers in the other. Definitely not athletic enough to feel like part of a team, and not smart enough to be academically validated. I liked my movies, my Les Paul copy axe, my Led Zeppelin vinyls and my porno mags. Had the occasional girlfriend (mostly ‘bushpigs’). Was lucky enough to have a growth spurt in year 9 and lose the fat, and I straddled the line of being social with the nerdier groups, and hanging out with the grungier ones who didn’t give a fuck about school and just wanted to pull cones at lunchtime.

    Home was another story, and I’m pretty sure that fucked me up more than anything school could throw my way. On reflection, I was actually grateful for school, it gave me something to look forward to.

  15. The Original Paul

    April 15th, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    “Another thing that started to strike me: crazy fuckin Margaret White is actually right about most things (other than Bible quotes).”

    Well I don’t know if my “Mrs White is the devil and doesn’t know it” theory fits the remake as well as it does the original. But here’s the weird thing about the devil: very rarely, if ever, is he portrayed to be wrong. He’s sometimes duplicitous, but never actually wrong. This goes right back to the serpent in Genisis – the Bible one, not the Terminator one. (I know that technically the serpent isn’t named then as the devil, and I believe it took Milton’s PARADISE LOST to suggest that Satan and the serpent were one and the same person, but you get the idea.) Adam and Eve are portrayed as liars, God as someone who’s deliberately hiding the truth from them; but the serpent tells the exact truth. He just doesn’t make the implications of it clear. This is often the case.

    I mean, think of these devil-like characters (all of whom share a lot in common with fictional accounts of the devil – all offer to make deals or “tempt” others – but aren’t connected to religious iconography in the same way that Mrs White is):

    – Keanu in MAN OF TAI CHI? Tells pretty much the exact truth throughout, except for the minor detail of his fighters being killed after they’ve outlived their usefulness. He tells the naive protagonist that he’ll be part of his “show”. He just doesn’t make clear what the implications are.
    – The Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT? The only time he’s wrong is literally the moment when he’s caught and imprisoned by The Bat. Beyond that one thing, just about everything he says turns out to be true.
    – Damien from THE OMEN? Well, he doesn’t exactly make prophecies himself, but y’know those weird photographic glitches of people’s heads being separated from their bodies or giant spikes pinning them to the ground? Yeah, every single one of those comes true.
    – Hannibal Lectar from SILENCE OF THE LAMBS? Has almost supernatural knowledge of human evil.

    The interesting thing is that all of these characters are acutely aware of what they’re doing, whereas Mrs White is totally oblivious. She’s right, but she has no idea why. Her religious mania seems to be completely sincere. She’s not trying to tempt anybody, nor to deceive them. She does horrible things, but does so in the belief that they’re necessary and righteous. It makes her that more frightening, because again, it’s hard to imagine that a Hannibal Lectar or a Joker could possibly exist in real life (they’re fantastical enough even on film). They’re just too powerful or omniscient. It’s not at all hard to believe that a Mrs White might exist.

  16. George Sanderson

    April 15th, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Thanks Vern, until you wrote these I never realised I had seen three Carrie films as I only really remembered the original.
    I watched this one with my little sister last year, she hadn’t seen any version of Carrie nor read the book, and really enjoyed it (we both had the same problem with casting).
    I thought the use of social media as a means for bullying was on point and is something that has only gotten more prevalent as social media becomes more invasive in the lives of young people. Heck, I just read an article about a woman who periscoped the rape of a 17 year old, so the use of it here is mild in comparison.
    I agree that this movie was made – and made well – for teens and has some subtly interedting deviations from the original. I recommend it.

  17. Great idea for a series of reviews, Vern. I’ve only seen the first and latest versions and it was interesting to hear what the interim ones had done with the story. (Not… all that much, apparently?)

    I definitely feel like the Pierce version doesn’t feel a movie about modern teenagers, even with Youtube or whatever. My problem isn’t that they tried to update it, but that they didn’t try hard enough. To me, there’s no excuse in a modern Carrie film for not addressing the school shooting phenomena. In this book (and in Rage, under the Bachman name), King was largely imagining what teen on teen violence might look like and why it might happen, but in the decades since we’ve gotten a lot of chances to see the reality of that scenario. I’d be fascinated to see a Carrie film that really dug into that. I wonder if you could still make her sympathetic if she really intended to kill them all (or made a plan, decided not to execute it when she gets the hopeful prom invite, and then turned back to it immediately in response to the prank). It just seems like the emotional calibration of King’s story, where we feel bad for Carrie and horrified-yet-cathartically-enthused when she brings the gym down on them, would be a little more complicated if set today.

  18. Jareth Cutestory

    April 16th, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    If it’s true that Moretz played Carries as “too confident,” I’d have to think that it was a deliberate choice. She certainly had no trouble playing the opposite in that remake of LET THE RIGHT ONE IN. That particular film had to work hard to justify its existence, and it came out fairly well compared to the far superior original largely because of Moretz’s performance.

  19. I’ve only seen Moretz in like three things, but I’ve always felt that she’s more of a television actor. She’s just a little too expressive and telegraphs her emotions just a bit too much. I remember thinking she was terrible in Hugo, but that she was a lot of fun in 30 Rock and that SNL Korea skit she randomly appeared on this year.

  20. Moretz is in Olivier Assayas’ last film CLOUDS OF SILS MARIA with Juliette Binoche and Kristen Stewart, which I liked a lot. She was okay, but in it all too briefly for her to measure up to what Binoche and Stewart did.

  21. So like, sorry if this has been addressed, but has Vern seen and/or plan on reviewing The Witch?

  22. Funny how Vern mentioned a horror podcast dissing this, because the “Now Playing” podcast episode on this movie (hopefully not the ep you were listening to) was what turned me around to liking it. I actually saw this and agreed with what everyone else was saying – it’s not bad but it’s not good, it sticks too close to the original, it’s too slick and shiny, Moretz is miscast, etc…. The “Now Playing” hosts can totally be snarky curmudgeons so I figured they’d tear it apart, but I was shocked that they really liked it (one guy liked it better than DePalma’s which is crazytalk but I actually sort of understand what he’s saying). Here’s some good things they pointed out that I agree with:

    1) The script does clean up a few plot holes from the DePalma one, like giving a better reason why Sue Snell suddenly shows up at the prom. Also in the original, the pig killing scene seems to come before they hatch the idea to dump blood on Carrie – they adjusted the order here.

    2) Moore actually has a job here; Laurie’s version seemed to just make a living by walking around and passing out pamphlets to people. Plus Moore’s cutting, which I figured was just another “oh she’s weird!” tic, actually makes sense storywise. The one time we see her cutting, she’s ringing up a customer (Sue’s mom I think?) and giving her back an altered prom dress. Subtlety mentioned her character not being updated enough, but this is probably the best possible way they can do it – Mrs. White now makes a living and affords that house by working on the same “slutty” prom dresses she forbids her daughter to wear, and she hates herself for compromising her morals and being a hypocrite. It’s actually a pretty cool detail.

    3) This is easily a better Tommy Ross. He has great chemistry with Moretz and it’s nice that this version confirms he died in the prank (not maybe in the ensuing fire) and that Carrie knows he wasn’t in on it. They also got rid of that shot where Miss Collins/DesJardin is laughing at Carrie, which may or may not have been imagined in DePalma’s version but is kind of an unnecessary muddling if you ask me.

    4) This one draws a few parallels between Chris and Carrie. (Explicitly so with the windshield shot Vern posted, which neatly resembles the earlier shot with Carrie’s face looking into the cracked mirror). The movie hints that Chris snapped not with Miss Desjardin’s punishment, but when her friends stopped having her back. She’s alone now and doesn’t have the support system you need in high school, and basically now she gives no fucks. Her loss of friends is what drives her to tragically escalate the situation, and in a weird way this almost fixes the Moretz casting – in a slightly parallel world, not even a bizarro one, Moretz/Carrie could easily be the popular one, and DoubleDay/Chris could be the friendless outcast.

    Personally I liked alot of the revamped climax (I mean, c’mon, Allen and Travolta’s death in the first one was so anticlimactic they played the whole thing uncut in the trailer). I even liked the cheesy graveyard ending (later cribbed in Batman V. Superman). I mean, they weren’t going to top DePalma’s famous jump scare, best to not even try and send the crowd going out with a smile with a catchy pop song (that I love)

    So anyways, yeah this is a pretty needless remake but there’s kids these days that you couldn’t force to watch a movie from the 70s if you held a gun to their head. This version can get them to absorb the same story, and the original can still be around for people like us to enjoy.

  23. Geez, I dunno you guys. I think you’re being way too nice to this. They might have improved some minor nitpicky stuff but overall CARRIEMAKE just feels so bland and disposable and tonally messy that I can’t in good conscience even condone it as a well-intentioned failure. It’s just a barely-thought-through money grab by people who know that this is a brand name that people still recognize. The ways in which it “improves” upon de Palma’s classic just feels so limited and superficial, and the style is so plastic and disposable that it barely seems to know why it’s on-screen half the time, except that it’s trying to be like that thing from before except sleek and modern. I think this was my most-hated movie from Halloween last year. And it’s not even that I think it profanes a classic, I just feel like it embodies everything bland and glumly professional about modern studio horror filmmaking, particularly the need to “update” in obvious tech ways without really thinking about the underlying story logic.

  24. Renfield – I still haven’t seen it. I usually work shifts starting in the afternoon and no theater here has ever had early shows of it. But I definitely plan to see and write about it.

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