The Reel: Bloody Sunday: ‘Carrie’ update proves unnecessary


Ben Conniff

In 1976, Brian De Palma brought “Carrie” to terrifying life in a film considered by many as a classic of the horror genre.

Oscar-nominated performances and still timely themes surrounding religion and teen bullying have cemented De Palma’s “Carrie” as one of the most well-respected horror films of the past 40 years.

With such a reputation to live up to, Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 “Carrie” feels as though it’s afraid to be different, much like its teen protagonist.

Wrongly billed as a “re-imagining” of Stephen King’s classic novel, “Carrie” tells the story of a sheltered high school girl who discovers that she has telekinetic powers after being bullied and ridiculed by her classmates.

If kids with cell phones speaking different slang are all that set this “re-imagining” apart from De Palma’s original, then Peirce and her creative team need detention and prom privileges revoked.

While teen angst is as timely as ever, especially in today’s cyber age, Peirce doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of presentation.

The production design, from Carrie’s house, to the school and the prom, looks and feels exactly like the original.

The script, from original “Carrie” screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen and “Glee” producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, features dialogue that sounds verbatim to Cohen’s 1976 screenplay.

That being said, the three new scenes tacked onto the script were executed rather well.

The film’s chilling opening sequence features Carrie’s mother, Margaret White (Julianne Moore) wailing for help and forgiveness from a bed strewn with bloodstained sheets.

The several religious icons and grotesquely melted candles lend a creepy Gothic vibe to a bizarre scene that concludes with Margaret giving birth to Carrie in the bed.

Later on, after Carrie finally accepts Tommy Ross’s invitation to prom, she gleefully goes to a store to pick out fabric for a dress — giving the audience a glimpse of how she feels coming into her own, despite an abusive mother and mean classmates.

Give all credit to Chloe Grace Moretz for stepping out of Sissy Spacek’s shadow and making this role her own.

With every timid look, smile and tear shed, her emotions feel genuine and confident — qualities sorely lacking from the rest of the production.

As for Margaret, Moore is the only choice for the character made famous by Piper Laurie’s grim, Oscar-nominated performance.

Since I only first saw the original after finding out about this remake, I could only see Moore whenever Laurie was onscreen.

Moore is nothing short of terrifying in her turn as Carrie’s religious fanatic mother.

Though it’s well acted, Peirce’s “Carrie” is an unnecessary impersonation of a superior film with important themes that still hold up today.

Save yourself the price of a prom ticket and watch the superior 1976 version of “Carrie” on Netflix this Halloween.