Movie remakes hardly ever offer anything of new value over their original counterparts unless there’s something specifically highlighted as being new. At most, they offer the opportunity to deliver classic stories to a whole new audience. At worst, they give the director a piece of the pie, figuratively speaking.
Directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), the updated Carrie closely follows the setting of the 1976 original with a few changes. For instance, the embarrassing moment of Carrie’s (Chloë Grace Moretz) first menstrual period in the high school girl’s shower room is filmed on a smart phone and is shown to nearly everyone in school.
But the fundamentals remain the same. Carrie is an outsider with no friends, Carrie’s mother (Julianne Moore) is a hardcore religious fanatic, and senior prom is coming up with bloody results.
Yet, while the story’s setting in the social media age might have been enough justification for its re-creation, it also serves as its downfall because in some aspects, it stays too true to the original.
Of these include Carrie’s relationship with her mother Margaret, which was easy to pull off in a 1970s setting but doesn’t feel as natural today. It’s much more difficult to have a mother-daughter relationship like theirs and be nearly completely independent from the outside world without any sort of intervention from anyone else.
Likewise, Carrie’s relationship with the gym teacher Rita Desjardin (Judy Greer) feels forced and inauthentic, while Sue’s boyfriend Tommy (Gabriella Wilde and Ansel Elgort) seems oddly okay with taking Carrie to prom at her request. These cases feel too far fetched to slide by as minute details in the story’s overall plot.
Ultimately, bullying in the mid 1970s is much different than it is today and while it’s why Carrie’s various relationships feel off here, it’s also why her role as the victim to the other girls still does work. They are catty and cruel and unfortunately, that’s something that hasn’t change in essence, even if the delivery has.
One of the biggest things working against this remake is that comparisons to the original are inevitable. Sissy Spacek is the face of Carrie and is quite possibly one of the best fits for a role ever, setting the bar high as the quintessential plain-jane for an outsider such as she.
Chloë Grace Moretz isn’t quite as believable as the unpopular kid. She’s cute and fits more within the vision of the conventional popular girl. While her acting was on, she just doesn’t have the look of a Carrie.
Julianne Moore, however, was spectacular as Margaret. Nonsensical, religiously obsessed and tormented.
Ultimately, Carrie 2013 seems to have a misplaced focus. Carrie’s telekinesis is pushed too far to the forefront too early on in the movie, offering too little in contrast between what comes before and what comes after the blood scene.
I’m still shocked, rocking in a fetal position on the floor when Sissy Spacek glares out from underneath the pig’s blood. I feel like I too am being punished for knowing about it beforehand. Here, I’m merely a viewer watching a film.
The constant feeling of eerie uneasiness present in the original is lost here. What could have been an opportunity to build a new identity around the statement in the story isn’t fully realized. Instead, you have something that wants to be a Carrie for the modern ages but it doesn’t quite let up on the past.