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John’s Horror Corner: Carrie (2013), a worthy remake that should stoke interest in the original

October 25, 2013

MY CALL:  Today’s Carrie preserves the legendary performances of the original with contemporary actors and an updated setting.  MOVIES LIKE Carrie:  Only the 1976 original comes to mind.

Let’s just start by fending off critics who just troll for things to criticize.  This is a remake of the 1976 film based on Stephen King’s first novel.  Because the original was powerful an remains effective to this day, some may argue that this is a remake that has no business being made.  I thought that about the 2011 remake (which they claimed was a prequel) The Thing (2011).  However, unlike The Thing, Carrie was remade impressively, honors the original and brings all of the quality to a present day audience that may have never given the time of day to the 36 year old original.

Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz; Dark Shadows, Let Me In, The Eye, The Amityville Horror) is an awkward, sheltered, God-fearing 18-year old living with her fanatical zealot of a mother (Julianne Moore; Seventh Son, 6 Souls).  She develops telekinetic powers after being humiliated at school as she comes of age (physiologically).  As a result of her humiliating trauma, she becomes the subject of attention of some clique-y, over-entitled “it” girls leading to a cruel prank that gets way out of hand when after Carrie is asked to prom by a popular boy, they are crowned king and queen of the prom, and Carrie has the time of her life.

The changes from the original were few in this remake.  But the major accomplishment here was modernizing a classic while preserving legendary acting performances with current actors.  Everyone seemed to do a solid job.  Carrie’s classmates were vicious, with a cruelty credibly fueled by entitlement.  Chloë Grace Moretz was impressive, instantly capturing my greatest sympathies.  And Julianne Moore made me shutter almost every time I saw her face; hauntingly insane, often psychotic.  Moore commands most of our nervous attention until the prom scene, when Chloë Grace Moretz shifts gears from great to amazing!

At this point I’d like to pause and address a non-horror victory.  The prom scene was enchanting.  They did such a great job making Carrie’s date seem sweet and attentive.  For about ten minutes we see Carrie coming of age mentally as a beautiful, somewhat confident woman.  She makes friends, has her first dance, enjoys her first embrace from a boy, and feels safe and cared for perhaps for the first time in her life.  I almost wanted the movie to have a happy ending.  No, they really did that good of a job making this scene, well…just so…touchingIt reminded me of my prom and simultaneously made me think “if I should ever have a daughter I hope she has a prom experience like this.”

Well, not entirely like this. This effectively sweet and tender scene primes us for what we all know happens next.  The messy prom finale.  It’s impressive.  Carrie exacts her rage on her classmates to gory ends, sparing the few she knows to be innocent but indiscriminately rending all others.  Her face mixes horror, revenge and, at moments, a karmically reciprocal satisfaction.  The scale is large, the revenge is sweet, and the ending is appropriately sad.  Although, the final few minutes felt forced.

If I had a criticism it would be that Carrie’s telekinesis comes out of nowhere.  It may have justifiably emerged after a traumatic event, but how did this not happen before in her four years of high school or a lifetime with her incredibly psychologically abusive mother?  She also seems to master the power to levels of shocking acuity, which diminishes the frightening rage-like abandon with which she wields her powers in the prom scene.  It seems equal parts meltdown and calculated, instead of entirely meltdown.

But largely this film was AMAZING.  This remake is not only worthy, but a must-see which should stoke young horror fans’ interest in the original.

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