‘Carrie’ reboot grips viewers with rejuvenated storyline
I have never seen Brian De Palma’s original 1976 film “Carrie.” I am surprised by this fact, given that I am a huge fan of horror movies, Stephen King, and trashy teen revenge flicks. Regardless, I am still very familiar with the plot of “Carrie,” given the nature of the internet and word-of-mouth making it almost impossible to not hear the details of so-called “classic” films. But I went into Kimberly Pierce’s “Carrie” reboot trying to forget everything I’d heard about the original and instead watch the updated version with an open mind.
It’s impossible for me to compare the two versions. But as someone who has never seen the original, I can tell you this new and improved version of “Carrie” is very good but difficult to watch at times. Much of this is due to compelling performances by Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie) and Julianne Moore (Margaret, Carrie’s mother). Moretz really makes the viewer feel for Carrie, showing not only the character’s vulnerable side but also the strength she pulls from her telekinetic abilities. Carrie didn’t just seem like a character – she felt like a real person I wanted desperately to help.
Moore really puts her acting chops to the test, playing Carrie’s crazed, self-mutilation-obsessed mother to great effect. The actress also does an excellent job at showing Margaret’s fragility and borderline — if not outright — split personality, namely in moments where Margaret gives Carrie love and affection. She promises nobody will “hurt her little girl,” which shows the real but twisted love this unstable mother and daughter share and make the moments of conflict between them that much more intense.
But no film is perfect, and with this much emotion and drama taking place, you’d expect something else to suffer – and indeed it does. While I loved “Carrie” overall, my main gripe with it is that for a film that’s been so heavily advertised as horror, it’s not that scary. Granted, the many sickening acts Carrie’s psychopathic classmates pull on her are quite horrifying, but there was never anything I found overtly scary about the film. Maybe this has more to do with horror standards of modern cinema than it does the film’s lack of scares. While I wasn’t scared, my stomach was in knots for half the film and I was overwhelmed by the sense of dread and suspense I felt while watching the movie. These are arguably sensations that stand toe-to-toe with feeling scared, so maybe “Carrie” could rightfully be called a horror film if we’re judging it on the basis of causing sensations of horror and not simply executing well-orchestrated jump scares.
Another minor gripe I have is with the film’s final act. While I knew what was coming during the infamous prom scene, I was expecting Carrie’s major meltdown to be a little more raw. The film seems to toy with idea that Carrie is just discovering her powers and doesn’t quite have control of them, yet Carrie suddenly turns into a telekinetic demigod, wrecking anything and everything in her path. Admittedly I was fine with this while I was watching the scene (mainly because I was just ready for all of Carrie’s classmates – have I mentioned how horrible these people are? – to get their proper fates), but looking back, it really seems a bit too over-the-top and comic book-worthy with the way in which Carrie suddenly gains masterful control and causes chaos that would make “X-Men’s” Jean Grey green with envy. The film’s ending was also pretty hokey and seemed to imply the possibility of a sequel – something that, in my opinion, is not even close to being necessary.
Despite these few gripes, “Carrie” is a movie that I really loved and would recommend to those who can handle its intense and often gut-wrenching content. I can’t speak for how it stands up compared to the original, but what I can tell you is this: “Carrie” is one of the most intense, suspenseful, horrifying, and hard to watch films I’ve seen in quite a while. Is this simply the ramblings of someone who has never seen the original film before? Am I just overstating the impact this movie had on me as I’ve never seen the first one? Perhaps so, but even if this is the case, you can’t deny the themes of bullying, abuse, isolation and neglect resonate strongly with today’s society – enough that I’d argue that “Carrie” is just as culturally relevant today, if not more so, than it was 37 years ago.