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"Carrie (2013)" Review

I've never seen the original Carrie. (I'll wait while you pick your jaws off the floor. Back? OK then...) I was too young when it came out and frankly so many of the bullet points of the plot are floating in the collective cultural consciousness, it feels as if I've seen it.

Like this: Carrie is a homely girl with a crazy religious fanatic mother who is picked on in school. When she gets her period in the gym showers, she doesn't know what it is and her mean girl classmates throw tampons at her and laugh. Eventually she gets asked to the prom, but her mother (rightfully) thinks that they'll just laugh at her. Pig's blood. Psychic powers. Lots of fire and death. Kills mom. Dies. Hand comes out of grave at end.

Did I miss anything important?

Though the original Brian De Palma take on Stephen King's novel is a horror classic (or so they say), since Hollywood isn't really big on new ideas, it's time for the obligatory remake, this time with Kimberly Pierce, the director of Boys Don't Cry (which won Hillary Swank her first Oscar), calling the shots and Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore filling the roles played by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in the 1976 original.

Though there are new faces, there doesn't seem to be much new to the story. Oh, it's been updated with Carrie's shower torment videoed on a cell phone and posted to YouTube, but the modern aspects of bullying aren't really explored. Moretz is really good as usual making the thin, rote script come to life, but she's hampered by the unavoidable reality that she's not particularly plain or unattractive, what with her cherub libs and wavy hair. This isn't to say she's too glammed-up; just that she's not as drab as Spacek. Moore, on the other hand, is a shrill, one-note cartoon; the default setting for portrayals of religious people in Hollyweird movies.

My girlfriend used to watch the original version annually didn't think that much of it either and mentioned a couple of plot points that we're left out or changed for the worse, specifically that the OG Carrie was scared of her powers while Carrie 2.0(13) seem to revel in them. (I'd noticed this was similar to Chronicle's tale of why giving bullied kids superpowers generally goes badly for everyone.)

Even more damning is that over dinner, I was able to thrash out a better story that kept 90% of the plot points of the movie as presented, except recontextualize critical bits to make a much more rational, logical, "plausible" and satisfying story. As has happened so many times this year, timidity and laziness in the script development phase leads to a thin gruel result on the screen.

Score: 4/10. Catch it on cable.


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