A remake of Brian de Palma’s classic “Carrie,” which doubles as a campy teenage horror nightmare and a sturdy examination of solitude and torment, was just as terrifying of a proposal as the original film itself. I assumed that with the utter failure of Gus Van Sant’s shot for shot remake of “Psycho” that the canons were off limits. Note: I will cut anyone that touches “Rosemary’s Baby.”
I kept faith. The parts played by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie have been replaced by Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore respectively, and director Brian De Palma with Kimberly Pierce. You may remember Moretz from the “Kick Ass” series; she is maybe one of the most exciting teenage actresses currently working. Moore needs no introduction. Pierce was the big surprise; she became an overnight sensation in 2006 with the enormously successful “Boys Don’t Cry,” and has done little directorial work since.
Carrie is born a mistake. Her mother Margaret was “taken” by Carrie’s father. She is the product of evil, and as far as her mother is concerned, must eternally repent if she expects to be saved from the darkness that conceived her. It is no wonder that Carrie grows up to be an uncomfortable young girl, and her classmates take notice. Moretz is traditionally beautiful, a far cry from the mousy young Sissy Spacek, who embodied Carrie both physically and emotionally.
Her home life is miserable. Moore’s Margaret isn’t the religious zealot played by Piper Laurie. She is much more obviously a woman with zero mental stability – religion is just the safety net she latches on to.
There is a lot to like about “Carrie.” But it’s in tone that Pierce makes her biggest misstep. The film feels too kitschy, not in a campy throwback kind of way, but in a super hero (or villain) origin story kind of way. The film depends a little too much on special effects, and the editing team went a little overboard on the sound and score. For all the meditation on religion, suffering and original sin, Pierce allows many of her messages to be upstaged by the film’s overly modernized atmosphere.
Pierce gets it mostly right. As right as a remake of “Carrie” can be. And although I will take the original any day, it is nonetheless a good horror film for the Halloween season.