While researching this week’s Wandering Through the Shelves Mother-Dauighter Movie challenge,I unintentionally stumbled onto yet another example of one of Jay’s least favourite subgenres: Beautiful Women Condescendingly Playing Ugly Ducklings.
The plain high school girl here is of course played by Chloe Grace Moretz, who has grown into quite a beautiful woman and is thus not at all how I pictured Carrie when reading Stephen King’s novel. I always found King to be a fantastic and often insightful writer and this moving and- best of all- to the point (he has a tendency to ramble sometimes) story was my favourite book in high school.
Most classics don’t need a remake but- I’ll be honest- Carrie needed an update. At the risk of alienating Brian De Palma’s many fans, his 1976 Oscar-nominated adaptation hasn’t aged well. The dated music and hokey dialogue distract from King’s powerful story when viewed today. (Trust me, I just did). What holds up, of course, are Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie who play the lonely daughter and controlling mother.
Kimberly Peirce seems up to the challenge of providing a fresh take on this story. In Boys Don’t Cry, she told a story of an outsider that was both beautiful in it’s depiction of human connection as well as horrifying in it’s display of our capacity for cruelty. Perfect for Carrie. Besides, five of the six most important characters are women so a woman’s voice seems welcome.
Unfortunately, Peirce follows De Palma’s template religiously, even recyclying the 1976 film’s dialogue whenever possible. To be fair, she does an impressive job incorporating modern concepts like cyberbullying into the story. She softens up the mom a little, played much more subtley by Julianne Moore than Laurie’s larger than life performance. That Margaret White is convinced that she’s acting out of love for her daughter is made much more clear in Peirce’s version. Still not enough to feel like a fresh take on the story though.
The biggest problem might be Moretz though. While Spacek appropriately never seemed comfortable in her own skin, Moretz seems much more comfortable kicking ass in Kick Ass than she does as an outcast. Apparently drawing from her own experience with being bullied, she does the best she can playing against type but it’s never a great fit for the character until prom night where Carrie finally starts taking her revenge.
I still say De Palma’s version is showing it’s age and needed a fresh coat of paint but I’ll take his dated but imaginative interpretation over this lazy remake any day.
Do you know I’ve never seen either?
I’m sorry this was a bit of a disappointment for you, but I’m not overly surprised. Thanks for the great review, though!
Well, I’d definately recommend the book if you haven’t already red it. I’m trying to decide whether or not to bother recommending De Palma’s version. A few of our blogger friends named it as one of their three Mother-Daughter movies so that’s probably reason enough to check it out. Spacek and Laurie really are great too.
Good review, but I didn’t mind it all that much. Most likely because I wasn’t expecting anything better than the original.
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I have to admit, the transition from top of the world as prom queen to being humiliated and covered in pig’s blood gets me every time, regardless of which version I’m watching.
Did you know that I have been prom queen, AND covered in pig’s blood, but never on the same night.
I’d imagine it’s pretty traumatic being covered in pig’s blood but I’m glad your prom dress was spared at least.
Nice review. This one is a decent remake but for me it didn’t really add enough to justify itself. King’s book are so tough to adapt though!
Thanks for checking out my review. I think the 1976 Carrie, for all its faults, is my favourite King adaptation. You’re right, it’s not easy and even the combined efforts of Stanley Kubrick and Jack Nicholson couldn’t get it quite right.
An article just popped up on my Facebook feed, I think it was Dread Central that talked about an uncut version of the film that was much more violent and far more true to the book. Seems there is a petition to get the uncut version released, which was only shown during pre-screenings. Hopefully it happens.
I’d sign that, I’ll have to look that up. Thanks!
I think the themes of the original are timeless and therefore don’t find it as dated as you except in the wardrobe department. A lot of the dialogueis you refer to as hokey feels like it’s done that way on purpose. I’m basing this on the idea that it’s far more satire than horror. However, i was cool with the remake. They just didn’t do the material justice. I don’t think it was terrible, just entirely forgettable. That’s a shame because it is a movie that should have been much better. Rather than go into a long, detailed explanation on what I think it did wrong, I’ll just link my reviews of each.