Sunday, January 5, 2014

Movie Review: Carrie 2013 (Based on a novel by Stephen King)

Sony Screen Gems
Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content.
Running time: 99 minutes.
Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer

Uninspired. Unoriginal. Unnecessary.

     I was eagerly awaiting the Blue Ray release of Carrie. I couldn't wait to get my grabby hands on it. As a huge Stephen King fan, I love watching movie adaptations of his books and seeing how they compare to the original works. Sadly, 9 out of 10 times the movie adaptations do not live up to my expectations. Kimberly Peirce's re-imagined version of Carrie is yet another case of "don't bother, just stick with the book". Or, better yet, watch Brian De Palma's classic version of it, it is way more atmospheric and unnerving. 

I honestly don't know what went wrong. Whether it was Chloe Moretz' inability to portray Carrie as a victim and a broken child. Or if this adaptation was just too literal, too close to De Palma's brilliant vision to bring anything new to the table. The fact is, I was very disappointed by this movie. 

Pierce remade the classic adaptation almost step-by-step, scene-by-scene. She didn't even bother re-adapting the story or putting a modern spin on it; except for the scene when Carrie gets her first period - that scene is now recorded with an iPhone and uploaded to YouTube. 

On top of that, this movie was dreadfully flat, lacking the creepy, disquieting atmosphere the book and the first adaptation sported. It was, to me, yet another mediocre teen horror-flick. It failed to deliver the book's core message. It failed to make me care for Carrie. Or even properly scare me. It didn't do anything for me, really. And to make matters worse, it was unnecessarily bloody and gruesome. And I don't mean the final scenes, when Carrie wrecks havoc in her hometown, finally getting her revenge on the cruel highschool kids. I mean, all throughout. From the bizarre birth scene at the beginning, to Mrs. White's bloodied attempt to scratch her way out of the closet. Gross! 

As far as cast is concerned, both Julianne Moore and Chloe Moretz weren't a good fit for their roles. Moore is just an old, crazed hag. Moping around the house, whispering prayers and looking all wrinkled and ungroomed. She doesn't have this silent (and very scary) power about her, the terrifying madness underlying her inner world. She's nothing but a permanent inhabitant of cloud-cuckoo-land. While Moretz shines in the final scenes, she is definitely not a good match for Carrie either. 70% of the time she's hunched and bent over, and her hair looks like a badly adjusted wig. There's nothing about her portrayal of Carrie that would inspire compassion, or any other feelings for that matter. You just kind of want to shake her and tell her to straighten up and brush her hair for God's sake! Let's face it, Moretz is not made to play a victim, she just doesn't know how. She's this kick-ass chic, a born-predator, not a scared, lost and confused girl. 

In the end, the new version of Carrie is not so much about the mental torture of social outcasts and victims of relentless bullying, as it is about high school being scary and unfair. And even then, there's nothing fresh or unique about it. The air is stagnant, the characters are unconvincing, and the message gets lost in the pointless gore-fest of a plot line. If you really feel like you need to watch it, please, PLEASE, read the book first. And then be sure to check out De Palma's adaptation as well, it is thousand times better than this one! 

On the left: Carrie as portrayed by Sissy Spacek.
On the right: Carrie as portrayed by Chloe Moretz.

About the book:

Paperback, 253 pages
Published November 1st 2005 by Pocket Books (first published January 1st 1974)

Stephen King's legendary debut, about a teenage outcast and the revenge she enacts on her classmates.
Carrie White may have been unfashionable and unpopular, but she had a gift. Carrie could make things move by concentrating on them. A candle would fall. A door would lock. This was her power and her sin. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offered Carrie a chance to be a normal and go to her senior prom. But another act--of ferocious cruelty--turned her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that her classmates would never forget.

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