Writer(s): Lawrence D. Cohen, Robert Aguirre-Sacasa
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Portia Doubleday, Gabriella Wilde, Ansel Elgort, Alex Russell, Judy Greer
Running time: 100mins
The lowdown: Brian De Palma’s 1976 horror classic gets the modern day do-over a long time after the terror remake wave has broken. Chloe Grace Moretz, Hit Girl herself, takes the title role of Carrie White, the shy, bullied schoolgirl with telekinesis, and Julianne Moore comes aboard in prestige casting as her religiously abusive mother, Mrs White.
The full verdict: Those bemoaning the trampling of sacred ground should remember Carrie has been revisited before.
1999’s Carrie 2: The Rage was a sequel-cum-reimagining and the 2002 pilot for a series that never was scored with Angela Bettis’ lead performance and attempted to remain faithful to King’s novel.
There has even been a stage musical that, reportedly, was bloody awful.
This latest Carrie plays like someone recounting De Palma’s version, getting general plot points correct but losing what made that film so special. Despite Lawrence D. Cohen, writer of the original, and Glee scribe Aguirre-Sacasa on writing duties.
So we get school punching bag Carrie White being victimised by queen bitch Chris Hargensen (Doubleday). And good girl Sue Snell (Wilde) still has school hunk boyfriend Tommy (Elgort) take Carrie to the prom, not knowing Chris plots a bloody humiliation for the misfit teen.
And yes, Julianne Moore is still the blood and thunder mother who believes her daughter’s telekinesis makes her a minion of Satan.
But, the original’s dark humour is entirely absent, replaced with no-fun-self-harm from Moore and performances generally better suited to Terrence Malick than King’s gloriously pulpy material.
Like a pub retelling, character depth goes AWOL while the horror moments get enthusiastically amped up.
Led by Doubleday, Carrie’s persecutors are blandly anonymous, leaving the group taunting in the early pivotal scene when Carrie confuses her first period for bleeding to death without the required shock or horror (but with the obligatory social media skewering).
Ironically, Moretz herself would have made a more intimidating bully, and is all swan, no ugly duckling as Carrie.
This lack of weight leaves the climactic prom humiliation and subsequent revenge off-balance, Carrie coming across a little Colombine when telekinetically turning the tables on her persecutors.
Juiced-up CGI powers also lend credence to Mrs White’s belief that her daughter is a witch, with levitation and body twisting effects straight out of The Last Exorcism.
And bizarrely for a female director, this Carrie ditches the original’s notion that the girls are the brains and the boyfriends merely their hormonal pawns. High school hunk Tommy here requires little coercion from Sue to take Carrie to the prom and Chris’ bit-of-rough boyfriend Billy (Russell, John Travolta in the original) drives the idea of Carrie’s bloody shaming.
Not as bad as the Nightmare on Elm Street remake, this is similar to that Let the Right One In remake Moretz also appeared in; the tune is recognisable, but it’s played all wrong.