By Helen Patterson
The 2013 movie, “Carrie” is a remake of the iconic 1976 film (directed by Brian De Palma, starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie White and Piper Laurie as Margaret White). Based on the novel by Stephen King, “Carrie” is the story of shy, outcast teenager Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) who develops telekinetic powers following her first, unexpected period at seventeen.
Carrie is persecuted by her mother, Margaret White (Julianne Moore) and many of her classmates. In one climactic and iconic scene, she snaps and kills most of the students at prom after an ill-advised prank covers her in pig’s blood, unleashing her psychic fury.
The remake does not stray much from the plot or even the settings of the original film. Many of the settings such as the run-down high school locker room, the school gym transformed into a dance floor and the small, stifling house where Carrie lives are not noticeably contemporary.
The biggest and most successful modernization of the movie is the incorporation of technology into the famous shower scene. In the remake, Carrie’s humiliation is not only witnessed by her classmates; it is also uploaded onto YouTube by her chief tormentor, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), and later broadcast at the prom following the pig’s blood drenching. This threat of technology immortalizing our worst moments is a real one which modern audiences can relate to.
Though De Palma’s original had more artistry, the remake has beautifully shot sequences. Advances in technology help to make the deaths that Carrie inflicts on her former tormentors bloodier and more visceral, yet beautiful.
The remake is compelling because the narrative is character driven. In De Palma’s film, Carrie’s destruction at the prom is flat and impersonal as she indiscriminately kills. On the other hand, Moretz’s Carrie wreaks carnage and catches many bystanders in the crossfire, but her telekinetic rage is targeted against those whom she perceives as her tormentors.
The relationships that Moretz’s Carrie builds with the other women around her, especially with gym teacher Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer) and her mother, are less tenuous and abstracted than those of Spacek’s Carrie. This is helped by an excellent and layered performance by Moretz.
Additionally, more energy is devoted to fleshing out the motivations of secondary characters, such as Chris and of Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), whose personalities and choices sometimes seem more driven by fate and plot than by character in the original.
The director of the “Carrie” remake, Kimberly Peirce, seeks to more faithfully depict the tangled, ambiguous relationships and characters of women than De Palma, whose desire for the artistic sometimes undermines his characterization.
One major dissatisfaction is the last sequence which features Sue Snell visiting Carrie White’s grave with a rather cheesy voice over from Snell. It would have been better to end the film with Carrie’s death, although, modern horror movies in general are too concerned with tacking on trite epilogues.