Craig's First Take: "Carrie"

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A re-imagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz), a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother (Julianne Moore), who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom. Based on the best-selling novel by Stephen King.
3.5

A re-make of Brian DePalma’s “Carrie”? Even Stephen King took a break from writing his next multi-million dollar hit to question the choice. Yeah, it wasn’t going to beat the original and yeah I was about to rail against Hollywood for again pitting a talented director, and a female director no less, in Kimberly Peirce (astonishingly only making her second movie here since 1999’s “Boys Don’t Cry”) in remake hell. But you know what? She shows her commercial appeal here, and gets two fantastic lead performances.

The White household is better than any haunted house. A blood-curdling scream can be heard as Margaret (Julianne Moore) delivers her child, conceived in rape. The birth is disturbing to say the least, but it’s just the start of the horrors for shy Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz), who was homeschooled until the district forced her to attend public school. An incident involving period blood gets her cruelly teased by the girls at school but it’s nothing compared to the abuse inflicted by her religious fanatic mother.

This new version travels along the same path as DePalma’s movie, with one of the major differences being that cell phone video and youtube are enough to make an embarrassing period blood encounter in the bathroom so much worse. Sue (Gabriella Wilde) is the lone nice one, feeling so much guilt that she punishes herself by denying herself prom and loaning out her boyfriend for Carrie to take. Chris (Portia Doubleday), the school’s biggest bitch, has other ideas.

The middle drags the most as we wait Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s screenplay to put all the pieces in place for Carrie’s “conductorship”of revenge. He also can’t help himself but give Carrie’s telekinesis the super-hero treatment, but that kind of glamorizing is forgivable, and touches on the closest thing to karma. Peirce manages the horror with the scenes of a young girl establishing her own independence really well. She also brings a magical charm to this poor girl’s prom experience, at least until, well you know, right?

And Moretz is terrific here. Where Spider-Man’s whole thing is responsibility with power, Carrie is more a damaged soul who’s finally found a defense, little knowing she’s actually creating one hell of an offense. And Moore is crazed perfection- haggard-looking, dead-eyed, delusional, and horribly devastating to her own child, she’ll make you want to call up mom afterwards just to say ‘thank you”.

There’s a scene where a character can clearly send a text that might prevent the whole thing from turning as ugly as it does but ultimately this is a modern re-telling that, while familiar in certain areas, is still chilling, still incredibly gruesome and jarring in its final scenes, still carries a strong message of what happens when you push people too far, and still has some fantastic performances. “Carrie” gets a 7 out of 10 from me.