Like most of my movie reviews, this one is mainly intended for people who’ve read the book, or, in this case, at least seen the 1976 Sissy Spacek movie. If you haven’t, Carrie, the lonely, awkward, sixteen-year-old daughter of a psychotic zealot, is slowly discovering that she has powerful telekinetic abilities. When her hopes for a little normal high school happiness are raised and then dashed, bloody tragedy ensues.
Mainly the same things that were strange about the book and the original movie, only less so. Particularly the way the villains swing between painfully realistic high school bullies and cartoonish psychopaths. This interpretation keeps the realism where it can, and where it can’t, it embraces the holy shit factor more openly that the others. As far as specific drawbacks of this interpretation go, there’s a requisite shock opening, because this is a horror movie in 2013. It’s not terrible, but it feels obligatory and unnecessary. Carrie’s thought process during her rampage also feels a little more muddled than in the book or the ’70s movie, because obviously we’re not inside her head as in the book, and the new movie’s budget and advanced effects allow the rampage to be considerably more drawn out than the ’70s one, making less of it feel purely impulsive.
Prepare for blasphemy. I love the book and the ’70s movie, but this is my favorite Carrie. Part of that is no doubt because it’s set closer to my generation, making it more painfully, personally relatable for me. The addition of smartphones and social media to the bullying tactics takes it to a scary real place for this twenty-four-year-old viewer. That won’t necessarily make it objectively better in the eyes of history, but for now, I think it’s a good thing. Carrie is such a classic, relatable story, new generations deserve to own their own version of it. There’s also the fact that, as great as Sissy Spacek was, Chloe Grace Moretz is among my favorite actresses of all time, and she is absolutely ideal for this part, not least because she’s actually the right age for it. Yes, she’s too pretty. It’s a movie. We all know to expect that. But she can be every bit as awkward, frightening, and heartbreakingly pitiable as Carrie needs to be.
In spite of the way the lengthened rampage scene takes away some of the shocked, impulsive simplicity of Carrie’s reaction, it allows the destruction of the town to be as huge as it’s supposed to be and for the most part works. This movie isn’t as traditionally scary as the ’70s one, but it’s a lot sadder, focusing more on the tragedy of Carrie’s story that makes it as special as it is.
(I’ve written before about why it’s one of my favorite tragedies)
Most importantly of all, in this version’s favor, it delves the deepest of all of them into Carrie and her mother’s twisted relationship, the madness and abuse combined with the love and dependence between them. It starts with them and ends with them. They are the heart.
Check out the theatrical trailer below, and give this amazing remake a chance.