Dec 022013

A young girl with telekinesis begins to discover the magic of being included and simply being loved after being deemed a freak at school and having to deal with an insane, religiously obsessed mother who believes almost everyone is a form of evil. Based on the Stephen King novel, it’s my review of the new adaptation of Carrie after the jump.

Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) is severely ridiculed at school by her fellow classmates, including and especially by Chris (Portia Doubleday). Chris has it in for Carrie merely because she’s an easy target, quiet and to herself in every way imaginable, many perceive her as a freak. When Carrie arrives home, her mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore), (who, to put it simply, is portrayed as bat shit crazy in almost every sense of the phrase) locks her up in a confined closet and prays endlessly for the lord to save her soul. She may be crazy, but she really does love her daughter.

It’s only recently, after a humiliating and horrific incident at school, that Carrie realises she has powers, ones that can move any object to her satisfaction, whether it be as the result of a happy instance or otherwise. Upon discovering these gifts, she’s asked to the school prom, and is recognised and admired by others. Things are on the up and up for Carrie. It’s only until things escalate with the people whom demean or circumscribe Carrie, that she realises just how inventive and unpredictable those said powers can be.

The obsession with “remaking” “re-interpreting” “re-imagining” older films in Hollywood based on original source materials is a trend that won’t soon go away. We ask “why?” endlessly, but the answer remains the same – why would a Hollywood studio invest in something original when they can rely on the familiarity of an older product that many adore and which already has an inbuilt audience? To condemn the remake trend, is also to condemn filmmakers whom have the chance to make a film for all audiences to see. Remakes are Hollywood’s way of giving filmmakers with a great ability and talent a vehicle to express said talents. Do we thank Hollywood for this? No. Their fear of original material is still a cause for damnation, however, it still remains that sequels and remakes should still be given the amount of respect and time given to any other film; not for studio execs in suits who only care of money and statistics, but for those filmmakers who have no choice to direct anything else.

In the case of Carrie, Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop Loss), whom isn’t known for having the greatest of luck with her own endeavours in Hollywood is in charge of this adaptation of the Stephen King novel. To compare this film to the De Palma one from ’76 would only be wasting words. The two films, despite its source material, in many senses, are completely different ventures. Does Peirce succeed in this reviewer’s opinion in making a great film out of the original story? Well, almost.

For almost every decent, mature scene in this film, there is another directly afterwards to counteract with it. There are moments in the film so ridiculous and out-of-place (which very much feel like Hollywood studio input rather than the work of a dedicated filmmaker), that you may automatically be convinced that this adaptation is a worthless exercise. I however, did not. The story of Carrie is a sad one before anything else. It’s essentially a young, humble woman who’s denied by almost everyone and the sudden moment that changes, resulting in further downfall. Kimberly Peirce’s adaptation is sad, but hardly scary. The detail to Carrie’s character and the emphasis placed on her struggle to be included and accepted is a real achievement, and the heart that remains throughout defies most studio-driven film achievements. If only it could have explored further just how sad the story really is; we get decent glimpses but still, not enough.

The performances are all wonderful, especially those from Portia Doubleday and Julianne Moore who play characters with incarnations of evil in the fabric of their being. A lesser director could have allowed hyperbolic and bombastic performances that restrict the characters from being relatable or even remotely grounded, but Peirce thankfully prevents this throughout. Moore and Doubleday make them accessible in any way possible. Moretz is of course, fantastic and a special mention should go out to both Judy Greer and Ansel Elgort whom both also give visible humanity to their characters, making all the proceedings more and more believable.

A female protagonist driven drama by a female director is already a better prospect for a film than a Hollywood produced horror flicks tailor-made for 13 year-old boys. Peirce is a fine director that should be commended for making a film that hardly feels manufactured and still maintains a heart. I cared about Carrie, and that’s to the credit of the filmmakers, who put something of themselves into the film, instead of just following the studio line.


By Chris Elena

The Facts

Director: Kimberly Peirce
Writer(s): Lawrence D Cohen, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Stephen King (novel)
Starring: Chloe Grace-Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Barry Shabaka Henley
Runtime: 100 minutes
Release date: Australia: November 28 2013