“Pigs Blood at the Prom”: Thoughts on the Carrie (2013) Remake.
Originally I had debated for a while whether to watch the most recent re-imagination of Carrie. Naturally, I have been a huge fan of Stephen King’s 1974 classic novel and Brian DePalma’s iconic horror film from 1976. However, in the age of remakes where new ideas seem to be at a minimum from the Hollywood studios, no classic horror movie is safe of a brand new adaptation. Not to judge a book completely by its cover or in this case a film, Carrie deserved a chance.
One of the more appealing aspects of this re-telling in comparison to most was the choice of casting. Julianne Moore as Carrie’s fanatical religious mother Margaret was a strong choice and Chloe Grace Mortez as the titular character was not disappointing. Mortez has proved to be a talented young actress over these past few years and was more than competent to take on the role, she is also no stranger to the horror genre or horror remakes at that. Her performance is different from Sissy Spacek’s version which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it demonstrated her ability to make Carrie her own. Bringing in innocence, naivety and vulnerability in a more subtle way, Mortez is very expressive and draws the audience in to empathize with her. Julianne Moore’s performance is chilling and emotive, slightly less campy than Piper Laurie’s take on the role in DePalma’s version, she manages to explore a more conflicted and humanized Margaret White.
Prior to watching the film I did have concerns, mainly would it be plausible for Margaret to keep Carrie sheltered in the modern age with technology easily available? Would an audience be convinced of Carrie’s lack of awareness, especially being exposed to more streetwise peers at her school? Would it be able to cover any new ground? Also, its worth bearing in mind that this isn’t the first remake we’ve seen of the telekinetic teen; a TV movie was made in 2002 starring Angela Bettis and Katharine Isabelle. A third Carrie movie (four if you count The Rage:Carrie 2 (1998))…Seriously?!
The film manages to blend in both the traditional side of the story with Carrie’s heavy-handed religious upbringing while setting it in the present where cyberbullying is rife in the modern day high school. It sort of works, however the film fails on the fact that it merely touches on notions such as the cyberbullying as well as attempts to capture a more complex relationship between Carrie and her mother where they display genuine care for each other. It appears that Director Kimberly Peirce had some interesting ideas however wasn’t brave enough to develop them further. She disregards the more compelling aspects in order to stick to the traditional story horror enthusiasts know extremely well. It does come as a shame as there is potential present but it is pushed aside in favor of re-creating the same scenes and dialogue that has been seen and done before. Rather than following the novel more closely as initially marketed it just comes across as an all out update of the 76′ film. When it comes to the pivotal prom sequence there really is no comparison. As previously stated Mortez is very expressive and relishes in the empowered Carrie; in these scenes however the CGI becomes over the top and takes away the sheer shock and terror that DePalma incorporated in his film. It looks very computerized rather than having genuine effects. A highlight however was the death of Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) which comes across as incredibly brutal but satisfying in terms of seeing her despicable character get her just desserts.
Hand on heart it’s not the worst remake in the world. It does play things too safe which makes it uninteresting, we’ve seen this movie before so why not try something a little different. Personally, it doesn’t hold a candle to the 1976 film but it is watchable. Many of the supporting cast came across as caricatures of the original characters and the soundtrack is pretty forgettable, reminding us of the shallowness of modern music. The 1976 version’s score did bring in an atmosphere which is unfortunately lacking here. Apart from Moore and Mortez, Gabriella Wilde gives a decent performance as Sue Snell, the popular girl who attempts to help Carrie. Without giving away too much her character is explored a bit more however comes into the film too late, it is interesting that it was touched upon as previous versions have neglected it. In terms of appearance Carrie and Sue are made to look incredibly similar, both attractive with long blonde hair, it is unknown whether this was intentional in order to suggest that underneath it all the two characters are more similar than it seems but was an intriguing decision. Finally, the iconic end scene where Carrie’s hand emerges from the grave has a strange twist which lacks impact. There is however a running theme of maternal instincts that makes it differ slightly alongside the focus on the fear of the outsider and teen bullying. Essentially with this you know exactly what you’re going to get!
The best way to sum up Carrie (2013) is that it has something there but goes down the route of being a pointless remake. It’s one I wouldn’t highly recommend but its worth a viewing if there isn’t anything else on.
Hayley Alice Roberts.