'Carrie' Review: Remake Improves on Original But Forgets the Frights

'Carrie' Review: Remake Improves on Original But Forgets the Frights

The original Carrie is not a good movie.

I know people claim it’s a horror classic and swear it shows director Brian De Palma’s genius, but watch it today and tell me if that’s how you truly feel.

Author Stephen King’s concept is good, but the execution is all wrong. The original movie is slightly perverted, character motivations are unclear and we never get a chance to ever take Carrie’s side or really understand her plight.

The new Carrie, directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), works much better. We understand Carrie better as a character, motivations are clearer and the true meaning of the story really comes to light. However, as much as I dislike the original Carrie, it was truly frightening and had a sense of dread that this new adaptation lacks.

The story behind Carrie has always been pretty thin. Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a girl that has been home schooled by her very religious mother (Julianne Moore) her whole life and is picked on now that she has to join a public high school. One day the bullying goes too far, and Carrie’s tormentors decide to take revenge. Meanwhile, Carrie begins to discover she may have powers she never knew about. All of this occurs while one of Carrie’s bullies convinces her boyfriend to take Carrie to prom because she is the one that truly feels bad about picking on poor Carrie. 

Sissy Spacek brought a creepiness and realness as the original Carrie, but Moretz manages to still hold her own in the title role. She loses herself in the part and director Peirce allows the character more room to grow on audiences. The rest of the cast is pretty average (just like the original) save for Carrie’s worst bully (Portia Doubleday) and her gym teacher (Judy Greer) and, of course, Moore as the deranged mother. The Game Change actress is very good, but her character isn’t given the same villainous horror she had in the original. This movie seems to want no one in the movie to be bad in our eyes except the bullies.

And that’s where Carrie thrives. King’s story was always meant to be a coming of age tale that dealt with bullying and not fitting in. Peirce completely gets this aspect to the story and brings it to life. Carrie captures some real drama when it deals with bullying and Carrie’s alienation. That aspect works better here, I think, because a talented female is in the director’s chair rather than De Palma who only really seemed to understand the horror aspects.

When the third act finally comes, the filmmakers try to squeeze every ounce of blood and spectacle they can out it, but they just can’t make up for the previous scenes which are devoid of almost anything resembling frights.

I think audiences will be soured by the fact that Carrie loses the one thing that made it memorable in the first place: the horror.