Directed by Kimberly Peirce [Other horror films: N/A]
Every horror commenter has one or two opinions (at least) that go against mainstream thought of horror fandom, and the fact that I’m not a fan of the 1976 adaptation of Carrie is one of them. Now to be fair, it has to do more with the story than the movie itself, but there you go. Here, while I can appreciate the modern-day take, I can’t say I’m much happier with this version.
Carrie is based off Stephen King’s first novel, and as it is his first novel, while I’ve consistently found it interesting in the way it was written, it’s never been a book I’ve really gone back to for enjoyment (unlike a handful of his other novels, such as It or Duma Key). I just don’t find the story all that interesting, and though I do like the spotlight being shone on the dangers of religious mania, I don’t think that’s the focus that most people in-universe would have to a situation like this.
This version follows the book (and original adaptation) pretty nicely, though with a few necessary alterations (such as Ms. Desjardin not slapping Portia Doubleday’s Chris during their punishment runs, or mentioning that the state stopped Margaret White from home-schooling Carrie). That said, it does feel, to me, like a closer version to the book than the 1976 movie, only with an updated feel (such as a far more prevalent use of technology, which made the scene in which Chris and her father were talking to the principal, played by Barry Shabaka Henley, all the better).
The adaptational attractiveness of Carrie does bother me a bit. She might look a little plain here, and she has the necessary awkwardness, but Chloë Grace Moretz is far from ugly, and I find it disappointing that no adaptations want to touch on the fact that Carrie, from the novel, was overweight and, to many people, unattractive. This doesn’t take away from Moretz’s performance, which I thought was pretty good, but just something that bugs me. Moretz does great, especially with her scenes when with Tommy (Ansel Elgort), and you really got the sense that this unhappy girl was happy, finally, for the first time.
I did like Judy Greer as Ms. Desjardin. Greer’s an actress I know from really random things, such as 13 Going on 30 and Jurassic World to Ant-Man and a single episode of The Big Bang Theory, and she does pretty good here in her role. She doesn’t really add anything to the character, but she was a solid presence. The same could be said for Julianne Moore (The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Hannibal). Now, I really did like her performance (and a lot of her dialogue was taken directly from the book, which I loved), but like Greer, I don’t think she really stood out in any spectacular way.
Neither Gabriella Wilde nor Ansel Elgort were great, but I did like the humanity I felt from Elgort. Wilde was decently compelling in her regret, but a face-heel turn like this a week before graduation doesn’t really make up for the times that she and friends made life hell for Carrie in the past. Portia Doubleday was a pretty good Chris, so no complaints there.
One way in which I think the 1976 version was undoubtedly better was during the prom sequence at the end. Maybe it’s because the 1976 movie is such a classic (even if it’s a classic I don’t love), but the prom sequence here just felt sort of shallow and almost tepid. I did like some of the scenes after, such as Carrie stopping that car with her telepathic powers in slow-motion, but overall the finale lacks the feel the 1976 version had, and that dream at the end just felt like a failed imitation of what’s been done better.
If you enjoyed the 1976 version of Carrie, you might enjoy this. You might hate it, also, and find it unnecessary, but since I don’t enjoy the 1976 version that much, it doesn’t really bother me that they made a new version of this. I found this movie passable, and certainly watchable, but still not a type of movie I’d watch for pure enjoyment. I think this movie does some things right, and the 1970’s movie did some things right, but both end up around the same for me.
And I wish I remembered more about the 2002 Carrie TV movie, because, ironically, I actually remember liking that one more than the 1976 version, and thus, more than this version. Until I see it again, though, I’ll refrain from pissing people off.
Carrie is a movie that looks pretty good, and has fantastic production quality and names attached to it, but it’s not a story I ever cared for (be it novel or most adaptations), and as such, I found this below average. Kudos to the guy in the library who shows Carrie how to make videos full-screen, though – he’s perhaps the most stand-up character in the movie.