Carrie is going to suffer hugely from comparisons with Brian De Palma’s 1976 masterpiece, that’s inevitable. Directorially, Carrie is almost shot-for-shot an homage to the original, which I promised myself I wouldn’t mention. Kimberly Peirce has taken an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” attitude to directing – she offers very little new in terms of direction, with the exception of a few half-assed references to modern technology. It’s technically great – the CGI levitation is fun and the climactic gymnasium scene brings the blood, just as the audience wants it. What makes this reboot different to its predecessor is the two central characters, Margaret and Carrie White, and how they are portrayed on screen. By choosing two strong actresses for these roles, Peirce saves Carrie from becoming a floundering, boring mess of a film.”
Chloe Moretz has long been an actress to watch and she does a fine job balancing Carrie White’s social awkwardness with her superpower-esque discovery of her powers. Less spaced out than Sissy Spacek’s performance, Moretz’ Carrie is a clever if naïve girl who doesn’t meet her mother’s abuse with cowardice but knowledge. There’s a very interesting take on the scene where Margeret reads the bible to Carrie – she pushes her away, yelling “that’s not in the Bible, Momma!” By making Carrie clever, we give her a little more spine and the audience feels much more sympathetic for her throughout. She’s less submissive, less pathetic; when she brings hell down on her Prom, we’re almost rooting for her. The main criticism of Moretz is that she’s simply too cute to play Carrie – for a start, she looks about five years younger than her made up, short skirted peers. This makes the bullying all the more horrifying – Carrie looks like a little girl, and an absolutely adorable one. The classic image of a creepy-looking Sissy Spacek is totally refuted by the wide-eyed, curly haired Moretz. Her homemade clothes look hip – Carrie looks like the girl you want to be friends with, not the girl who’s horribly bullied. Where is Carrie’s John Bender? She looks as though she’d be scooped up by the hipsters as soon as she could say “Oh, telekinesis? You’ve probably never heard of it.”
Julianne Moore is suitably crazed and religious as overbearing mother Margaret. Being both abusive and loving is a hard line for an actor to walk, and though Moore’s performance feels over the top at times, it’s ultimately what the role calls for. While Margaret White is often portrayed as evil, Moore’s performance suggests a more mentally ill woman – what could be a sad reality. Similarly to Moretz’ clever Carrie, Moore’s mentally unstable Margaret is undoubtedly a horrible figure, but also one that inspires an odd sort of sympathy. It’s unfortunate for Carrie that the rest of the cast feel as though they are going through the motions – Portia Doubleday is over-evil in her role as Chris, and Judy Greer just can’t shake Kitty from Arrested Development for me. Carrie is, essentially, about those two central characters – but it’s a shame the two solid central performances are matched against poor supporting ones.
My main problem with Carrie was simply that it’s a film that, like it’s central character, doesn’t quite fit in. It’s scary at times, but not scary enough to even consider alongside the utterly terrifying 1976 version. It feels like a teen movie at times – graduation, prom, the cute boys and the sinister YouTube clips – but the blood-soaked final third puts paid to that. Carrie doesn’t quite succeed in mixing genres the way it wants to, which makes it much harder to enjoy. During the scenes when Carrie lets her telekinesis loose on the town, even Moretz looks slightly confused by proceedings, staring at her hands in a weird mixture of bewilderment and rage. That’s not quite what I felt after watching, but Carrie could have been so much better. A little streamlining of the subject matter and more focus on genre would have gone a long way with this one. That said, “Carrie never tried to be Oscar bait and it’s an immensely enjoyable film – but ultimately, after a few weeks, I’m not sure if audiences will “remember her name”.