Review: Carrie (2013)

2013/10/18 16:48:36 +00:00 | Monte Yazzie

Brian De Palma created one of horror’s great films with 1976’s Carrie. Adapted from the Stephen King novel, the story of 17-year-old Carrie White fashioned a film that was both a humanistic portrayal of a confused young girl and a stylistic horror film unlike many others at the time. Kimberly Peirce, director of the acclaimed Boys Don’t Cry, applies a decent character approach to the new rendering, but stumbles by trying to imitate the original.

Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a quiet young girl who is ridiculed on a daily basis by the kids at her high school. At home, Carrie is under the watchful, controlling rule of her religious mother (Julianne Moore). After the girls in gym class brutally bully and humiliate her, Carrie realizes that she is different in a special, supernatural way. However, things don’t get better for Carrie as the bullying gets harsher and her mother becoming violently controlling. Ultimately, Carrie is pushed to the breaking point, which has her unleashing her rage on all who have wronged her.

If this synopsis sounds very familiar, it’s because Carrie doesn’t stray too far from the source materials, at times repeating identical lines of dialog and specific scene setups from the original film. While this could be distinguished as a filmic homage, it unfortunately feels unoriginal and needless. However, there are few added elements that offer some interesting diversions apart from De Palma’s film. The introduction is an especially welcome turn that presents a looming dread over the film. Kimberly Peirce does a good job of portraying the characteristics of youth, incorporating the fragility of self-esteem and sexuality amidst the need for acceptance and friendship in high school. The narrative also adds an all too familiar and disturbing element of bullying seen amongst young people. The tormenting anxiety and degrading taunts is the most terrifying aspect of the film.

One of the glaring issues with this film is the excessive utilization of computerized special effects.  While the technique feels like an attempt to distance this film from the original, it instead tarnishes the images it too closely resembles. Though this aspect doesn’t ruin the film, as some younger viewers might not be familiar with De Palma’s elegant handling of the climatic effects of the original, it doesn’t help it in any way. The performances and early contributions from the narrative offer positive attributes. Julianne Moore is good, rambling with a mix of religious sentiments and crazed declarations.  Portia Doubleday is menacing as Chris, the outcast ringleader of the tormenting teens. Chloe Grace Moretz is talented, though her performance showcases Carrie’s budding happiness and confidence more than the lonely and emotionally captive character portrayed by Sissy Spacek. Moretz’s performance also insinuates a change in the understanding of Carrie’s utilization of her power.

De Palma’s film is an iconic genre work, and while this update of Carrie feels more forgettable than frightening, there are some interesting updates. Peirce does well focusing on character early, but regrettably opts for imitation when transitioning the early themes into the culminating explosion of emotions.  An update of Carrie may not be necessary but it provides the opportunity for unfamiliar viewers to seek out the original, a true classic of horror.

Film Score: 2.5/5