The remake of 1976’s Carrie does nothing less than embody the saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad movie, just a useless one. Being done almost shot-for-shot it proves the original tale of the nasty world of high school through the eyes of a suffering outcast still holds up and that making things shinier does not clarify as re-imagining.
On that note, the movie’s opening is one of the only standalone differences from its predecessor. Gone is the panning shot of naked high school girls and in its place has Margaret White (Julianne Moore) screaming in agony as she gives birth to daughter Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz), whom she immediately attempts to kill. Probably wouldn’t be wise to tell that birthing story to your girlfriends.
After that the movie sinks into an uncreative pit that can’t be viewed without picturing the original in its place. From Carrie’s unfortunate game of volleyball, to the infamous shower scene, the proceeding meeting with the principal and beyond to its prolific prom scene everything is done almost verbatim. It’s almost like the writers were writing the script as they watched the original going, “Yeah that’s good throw that in as well”.
The result is a movie that waters down the hyper sexuality and shock of the original and creates a safer version of a dark tale. This was mostly likely for the teen crowd who has become less exposed to the horrors reality and prefers the comfort of bickering dramas on the CW.
Even when the focus shifts to Carrie’s relationship with her mother—one alluded to with the opening—it seems like the expansion of scenes from the original, but don’t expand the story. However hard they try to make Carrie seem even more like a wallflower, watching as opposed to participating, and Margaret deliberately insane as opposed to just evangelically bi-polar, nothing is enough to shake the feeling all of this has been done before.
Despite all that, I stand by what I said at the beginning: This is not a bad movie. Director Kimberly Pierce doesn’t sink to the pitfalls of most modern horror movies, treating the subjects humanely and not subjecting the story to grizzly violence or blatant teen porn. Moretz and Moore show us a side either of them rarely go to, the former proving why she is the best young actress on the scene as the defenseless, yet guarded heroine (is that the right word?) who uses her powers to get revenge on all the cruel teens who wronged her.The latter, it a witch-looking performance, convincing me she would stab me if I even mentioned the name Darwin. It would be good if the original didn’t exist, but no matter how good the performances or sensitive the directing, it’s an all too noticeable shame that this version is done so closely to the other.
Carrie is an eternal story because it’s forever modern. There will always be young teens who feel left, and for many different reasons. This story is like a chameleon in that it can change but still be the same. Harsh super-religious nutbags aren’t exactly common anymore, but the background of Carrie’s home life could be altered to fit a more modern example, and therefore become more relatable. Instead nostalgia got the better, and we are left with a movie that just feels pointless and supports teenagers when they have this conversation with their parents: “Why don’t you just watch the original? It’s so good”, “Because it’s old”, “So?”, “Old movies are lame because they’re old, duh!”