‘Carrie:’ The Queen of King’s

Ed. Note – This was supposed to go up a while ago so that’s why there’s some late references. Sorry, Robin.

Attempting to reboot Carrie is like trying to reboot white bread. It’s already something so classic, simple, and complete. It fulfills its purpose perfectly and is recognized as a respected staple of its genre. Adding anything to it would change its definition, and taking anything away would make it taste icky. So it was a daunting and wholly unnecessary task to make this movie in the first place, and I can only imagine the heart palpitations and beads of sweat that must have accompanied director Kimberly Peirce’s (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss)  and the rest of the crew’s experience.

It’s no use comparing this Carrie to Brian de Palma’s multiple Academy Award nommed 1976 film, because well, when comparing their functions, their purposes, it’s just not fair. It’s 2013 and almost Halloween. Bullying is a topic of national concern, and so is Chloe Grace Moretz. That’s why this movie happened. It was never meant to be a piece of art, a stylized, Hitchcockian study of horror. It was not going to star someone as intriguing and odd-looking as Sissy Spacek. It was meant to sell tickets to easy-screaming teenagers. And, because Carrie is what I imagine was a terrifying movie to make due to of all the expectations, I went in with none.

Kimberly Peirce’s Carrie is solidly entertaining, fun, and most importantly, not excruciatingly painful with the way it is “updated” due to “technological advances.” In fact, Peirce and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa do something so smart with the existence of the internet and cell phones, something that slightly alters the character of Carrie White but doesn’t let her stray all the way to wheat or multigrain (we’re still on the bread metaphor, right?). Yes, the taunting girls now take a video of the locker room incident and post it online, but that is just par for the course, and it honestly doesn’t affect the aftermath in any way; it still means every kid snickers when Carrie shuffles down the hallway.

What the internet gives 2013 Carrie is the power of research. She is a sheltered girl, tortured and tormented by her delusional mother, but when she’s at school, she has access to Youtube, and to library books, and although not skilled with a computer, she is able to discover that her powers have a name, and that there are other people like her, normal people, a bunch of them around the world, who are telekinetic and in control of their special abilities. This addition of Carrie’s internet discovery is a very natural way to allow her to be lifted out of the crazy religious world of her mother, to recognize that she is not alone and doesn’t have to feel like a monster. On top of this, Carrie spends more of this movie experimenting with telekinesis, honing her powers, and becoming more conscious of and finessed with them, which smartly opens up the climactic prom scene for some creative deaths and special effects.

Judy Greer brings a sort of old-school horror movie humor to her role as Ms. Desjardin, the gym teacher. It’s a sort of tongue-in-cheek take on the shockingly inappropriate and unhelpful authority figure, and it’s perfect. Julianne Moore is a tad disappointing as Carrie’s Jesus-freak of a mother, not because she does anything wrong but almost because she doesn’t do anything wrong. It’s a solid performance of that character, but I can’t help feeling she could have done way moore (sometimes I think I’m really clever…and then I make jokes like that). Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) and Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) are both very good in their roles, but Portia Doubleday stands out as Chris Hargensen, the chief bully and just a vicious, truly detestable and damaged girl. She is so good that you almost feel bad for Chris because behind her eyes, you see true fear, and you can’t help but know that Chris must have been through some real s**t to be able to treat someone that horribly. Chloe Grace Moretz is infinitely less annoying than I thought she would be, and that’s all I have to say about that.

Carrie knows it will never be Wonder Bread. But it intelligently embraces the more generic, store brand that it is and adds a really graphic scene of a person’s face smashing through a windshield, so like, spread some butter on it, I’m on board.

Grade: B+

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