Film & TV

Review: Carrie

Most movies could start by saying that the protagonist is a normal person like you or me. Carrie, however, is not a normal girl: she is awkward and unhappy, and her peers are not afraid to rub those facts in. She also has incredibly potent psychic powers.


Acclaimed author Stephen King’s first published work, the original adaption of Carrie in 1976 was a welcome addition to the year’s line-up. The film received glowing reviews and academy award nominations for the titular lead, played by Sissy Spacek, and her mother, played by Piper Laurie. A made-for-TV remake followed in 2002, and whilst that version came and went with little fuss (to the point that many fans of the original movie are unaware that it even exists) it still has its share of supporters. Now 2013 has brought us yet another remake of the tragic horror classic. Does this modern adaption of Carrie compare to the original? Or has it just left a bloody mess in its wake?

Directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), the latest adaption of this Stephen King classic could be said to combine some of the best elements from both of the previous two movies: the pragmatic, yet entertaining deviations from the source material present in the original movie, and the faithful recreation of the classic novel. Though the 2013 version does take the time to add new scenes to the movie, there are no real surprises in store for fans of the original. That said, these extra scenes and other little changes to the existing moments still allow it to stand apart from the previous two movies, whilst still staying true to the book, and though the story has clearly been modernized, it’s not so much that it feels intrusive.

Whilst the performances in the movie have generally been well received, this is arguably due to Chloë Grace Moretz’s (Kick-Ass) and Juliane Moore’s (Boogie Nights) performances of Carrie and her insane, fanatical mother, Margaret, respectively. Together the two actresses manage to bring the love-hate relationship that King originally crafted to the big screen, though somewhat more subtly than in the original story. Despite this, Moore still manages to deliver a stunning performance as the clearly insane Margaret, and Moretz’s performance as the tragic loner evokes all the sympathy and terror that Carrie was known for.

Chloë Grace Moretz and Juliane Moore in Carrie

Apart from the two leads, we also receive strong showings from our two villains, Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan, played by Portia Doubleday (Youth in Revolt) and Alex Russell (Chronicle) respectively. The pair do not quite live up to the original two actors, although this is mostly due to the shortage of screen time that would possibly have given them a greater chance to shine. However, they still make the best of what they have; when they do show up they play the roles rather well, portraying terrible people whilst managing to avoid coming off as one dimensional villains.

Unfortunately, the rest of the ensemble cast falls short by comparison. Gabriella Wilde (The Three Musketeers) in the role of the guilt ridden Sue Snell is guilty of a cardboard performance, whilst Judy Greer (The Wedding Planner) as the sympathetic Coach Desjardin and newcomer Ansel Elgort as dream boy Tommy Ross are outright robotic at times. Whilst the emotional intent is clear in their performances, at the end of the day it just doesn’t quite manage to come through.

Whilst some have questioned the need for a remake of the film, it’s undeniable that modern movie magic really lets the story’s infamous climax shine, especially compared to the low budgets of the previous two movies. Though there are some moments where the violence gets a little too uncomfortable, it’s a minor spot on an otherwise gripping rampage that will keep the audience on the edge of their seat from start to finish.

This modern adaption of the timeless classic has its flaws, make no mistake, but on the whole it can be agreed that the movie manages to deliver a fresh take on the story for a new generation. Though there are a few moments that will make a lot more sense to those already familiar with the tale, the movie promises to deliver an enjoyable film to both newcomers and seasoned fans alike.

Carrie Score.

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