RAPID REVIEWS: CARRIE
The first Carrie film (based on Stephen King’s 1974 novel of same name,) released in 1976, is considered a horror classic in Hollywood. It followed high school outcast Carrie White’s humiliation at the hands of her peers upon her first period and culminated at her revenge on prom night after another humiliation.
Carrie the first, played by Sissy Spacek, hardly pretty easily came across as the bullied girl; the new one, a pale Chloe Grace Moretz (Hit Girl from the Kick Ass films) is a conventional beauty— a far far cry from the ‘frog among swans’ Mr King described— so her ordeal is of a psychological origin, a low self-esteem brought about by the actions of her Christian fanatic mother, played by a mousy Julianne Moore, who claims, “The first sin is the sin of intercourse.”
It is the 21st century, so Carrie’s humiliation is updated through a YouTube upload, an act that leads the culprit, classmate Chris Hargensen, to be suspended from prom. From there, the film then becomes a series of revenge plots: Chris plans the prom humiliation, and Carrie counters.
But it isn’t a fair fight. With Carrie’s hormonal changes come telekinesis; she is able to move objects with her mind. While the first film was horror, based on bullying and vengeance, both taken too far, the current adaptation is more superhero than horror. A scene where Carrie tries out her new found powers in her bedroom recalls Peter Parker’s similar experiment in the Spiderman franchise.
This unexpected turn leads to an inconsistency in the characters, especially in Chris, who alternates between mean girl-ness and heartless villainy as the film itself tries and fails to find a right tone. Director Kimberly Peirce, one of few female directors in Hollywood, clearly sympathises with most of its female cast, treating Carrie’s initial humiliation with cinematic dignity, avoiding nudity previous director Brian De Palma allowed. Her “Carrie” is also imbued with colour symbolism. Carrie’s last name and pallor project purity; red appears often, from Carrie’s blood to an abandoned prom dress; Carrie herself picks a pink dress for prom.
Every remake’s challenge, deprived of suspense, is finding new angles to an old story, and it is on this score that “Carrie,” despite Peirce’s good intentions, fails.