“Carrie” Fails to Scare

“Carrie” feels more like an after school special peppered with scenes of self-mutilation and less like a horror flick with an October release. The remake of this horror classic does little to scare today’s audience.

Carrie White, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, is a painfully shy, outcast girl who discovers she has telekinetic powers. Tormented by her mother and taunted by her peers, she is pushed to the brink at her senior prom.

Courtesy of Screen Gems

Courtesy of Screen Gems

Moretz’s portrayal of Carrie is less passive and meek than the original. She blames her mother for not being able to fit in, and even goes so far as to challenge her recitation of bible passages. While this may be an attempt to relate to teenage viewers, it detracts from the character. She seems less like a scared little girl ruled by her tyrannical mother and more like a rebellious teenager, causing us to pity her less when she goes on her violent rampage. That being said, Moretz really shines during those rampages.

Perhaps the best — and worst — parts of the film involve Julianne Moore’s portrayal of Margaret White, Carrie’s religiously maniacal mother.  She provides most of the cringe-worthy moments during her self-mutilation scenes. Even when banging her head against the wall, Moore really sells the fanaticism of her character.

Another pleasant casting surprise is Judy Greer as Ms. Desjardin, the physical education teacher who genuinely seems to care about Carrie. Her no-bull attitude works well to anchor the movie in reality. We’ve all had that PE teacher in our lives.

What was director Kimberly Peirce’s role in this production? Scene by scene, and sometimes even line by line, the film is a straight re-creation of the original. Some of the sets even look remarkably similar. In fact, there is so little added to this movie you wonder why they even bothered to remake it at all.

There is, however, a fair attempt to update the flick for modern audiences. For instance, when Carrie gets her period in the girls’ locker room there is certainly less bush in this film than in its 70s counterpart, and our antihero Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) pulls out her phone to shoot a video of Carrie’s humiliation and post it online. This simple but smart addition to the storyline will really connect with an audience that deals with cyberbullying on a regular basis.

There are, however, some half-hearted updates to the film that aren’t as seamless. Chris’ boyfriend and partner in crime is more of a “Jersey Shore” type than the tough guy played by John Travolta in the original. I guess we have to concede that this archetype will forever be a part of our popular culture.

Overall, the slow pace that worked so well to build intensity in the original just cannot compete with modern horror flicks. This film stayed true to the original, but did nothing to stand out on its own. Without the seat-jumping action so prevalent — and some would argue necessary — in today’s scary movies, “Carrie” will find it hard to please fright-seeking moviegoers.

 

NOT RECOMMENDED: No surprise at all, this remake is yet another entry in the long line of classic horror films that don’t need a  modern-day re-envisioning.