Film review: Carrie

Bizarre in a bad way, says Donald Clarke

Carrie - Trailer

Film Title: Carrie

Director: Kimberley Pierce

Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Julianne Moore

Genre: Horror

Running Time: 98 min

Fri, Nov 29, 2013, 00:00

   

There are less frustrating ways of wasting time than wondering why anybody would bother remaking The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street or, now, Brian De Palma’s Carrie.

Kimberley Pierce, director of Boys Don’t Cry, fails to offer any worthwhile answers with this modestly effective but largely uninventive retread of Stephen King’s first published novel. Is this more of a feminine (or feminist) reading? Well, there are fewer dodgy scenes in the girls’ changing room. Maybe the film is less bewildered by its own abused protagonist. But you would have trouble arguing for any significant shift in perspective.

The film begins well, with Carrie’s religiously demented mom (played by an intense Julianne Moore) giving birth bloodily in the family home. As a living manifestation of sexual desire, Carrie grows up to become a painful burden to the self-lacerating seamstress. The teenager finds it impossible to communicate with her contemporaries and is bullied mercilessly at every turn. But she hides a powerful secret: the power of telekinesis.

Why am I wasting keystrokes? You know all this. Indeed, the distributors are so sure of the story’s status as contemporary myth that they include the entire plot in the film’s most recent trailer.

Largely stripped of De Palma’s flashy style (though a soft-focus, slow-motion sequence plays homage), the new film struggles desperately to assert its identity. The addition of camera phones and the internet adds contemporary colours to the bullying. A variation on the first film’s famous shock ending breaks new ground in the field of cinematic idiocy.

But the most significant (and unfortunate) innovation comes in the casting. Chloë Grace Moretz is a fine actor, but she is too angel-faced, too charming and, crucially, far too callow to play Carrie.

Do the sums. The star of Hugo is a full 10 years younger than was Sissy Spacek when she played the unfortunate school leaver. For all the sense it makes, they may as well have cast Ms Spacek in the remake.

Bizarre in a bad way.