Stephen King’s first published novel, “Carrie,” has been haunting readers for almost 40 years with the story of a special girl who is pushed too far. The story appeared on screen once before, giving audiences a heroine to root for even though she ruthlessly murders her peers. This first adaptation of “Carrie” has remained memorable in horror movie history.
Director Kimberly Peirce’s rendition of the classic horror film does not expand on either the original novel or its previous film adaptation. Instead, Peirce’s “Carrie” regresses the characters and features a less thrilling plot.
Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is an unpopular high school senior who is viciously picked on by her fellow students, including Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday). At home, Carrie is dominated by her strictly religious mother Margaret (Julianne Moore). After a prank goes too far, Carrie discovers she possesses incredible telekinetic powers, which she attempts to control. When Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), one of the instigators of a vile prank, feels guilty, she gets her boyfriend to take Carrie to the senior prom. Plans to make Carrie a laughingstock are put into action and ultimately lead to a massacre.
“Carrie” starts with potential, but eventually runs itself into a short, barely interesting climax and weak ending. The film establishes the somber protagonist and monstrous antagonists before degrading into a re-hash of Brian De Palma’s original film.
“Carrie” no longer feels like a scary movie. At times, it is more like a gritty high school drama. There are only a couple of tense scenes. Prom night itself, the infamous climax of the tale, is bogged down by heavy CGI. It is troubling when the audience can’t be pulled into the supernatural aspect of the movie, which is one of the story’s best aspects.
Strong acting from Moretz and Moore keep the film from falling to pieces. Moretz is likeable as the tortured Carrie, even when she commits atrocious acts. It took a while to believe her unpopular, ugly duckling character, but Moretz succeeds in making her more sympathetic by the way she jumps slightly when confronted or even noticed.
Moore is intimidating as Carrie’s mother and has a strong, forceful presence over her younger costar. The minor characters, on the other hand, are either awful or forgettable. Doubleday’s villain is uneven as a rotten, but popular, teenager and possible psychopath. Her boyfriend, Billy Nolan (Alex Russell), is basically just an idiotic means-to-an-end, while Carrie’s prom date is reduced to a bumbling nice guy. All of the side characters are shadows of their novel and original adaptation counterparts, making them dim caricatures.
“Carrie” is a disappointing movie because it diminishes the great premise explored by the superior 1976 version. It fails to thrill the audience by overusing CGI effects and giving a bland, modern take to King’s classic. Peirce tries to make the retelling into an interesting, horrific update, but ends up tarnishing a somber, terrifying classic movie.