This movie was okay. I didn’t feel like I was wasting my time seeing this movie because I’m a big fan of Stephen King, Julianne Moore, and Chloe Moretz. So no matter how bad it was, I knew I would have a good time. That said, I can’t recommend this movie to you.
Lets talk about what I liked. First, foremost, and best reason to see this movie – Julianne Moore. This is her movie. She owns every scene she’s in. And Julianne Moore is the most unique part of this remake. In the original book and movie, Margaret White was memorable primarily for her religious fervor. For this character, religion is an outlet for her mental illness. This movie really plays on that dynamic not Margaret White isn’t just a fundamentalist bitch, that there is clearly something wrong with this person. For all the problems and emotional abuse this character inflicts on her daughter in the other adaptations, Peirce and Moore have really honed in on mental illness as the root of Carrie’s problems.
I think if there has to be a remake, Kimberly Peirce was the right choice. This is a story that is supposed to pass the Bechdel test. Its a story about a woman and her relationship to other women. I was really interested to see how the story changed with a woman directing. And I think it really shows in the movie’s focus on Carrie’s relationship with her mother. Of course there are detours. Much like the original, there is a scene where Tommy and his friends try on Tuxedos. Except this one also features a scene of the ladies getting their hair done. But the Carrie-Margaret scene gets more screentime in this adaptation.
Probably one of the best scenes in the movies is where Carrie, arguing with her mother, tells her something she said isn’t in the Bible. That is a key difference in this movie versus the others. In the others, crazy fundamentalist Margaret is master of the theological quotes. But in this adaptation, her mental illness is the more important dimension of the character. And this is the only version of Carrie where Carrie is actually portrayed as being religious herself.
Those are the positives, and they’re strong positives. They knew what the strongest part of the movie was and gave it the most screentime. This isn’t Pacific Rim where we spend half an hour fucking around with Charlie Day in Hong Kong. This movie seemed to take 45 minutes. Its a fast paced movie that really builds up a sense of dread.
Now for the bad news. The scenes with Julianne Moore aren’t enough to salvage this movie from being a rental. Those scenes are good because they’re new. Everything else is a retread of things we already know. People throw tampons at Carrie, the girls get sentenced to gym Chris huffs off, Sue and Tommy take Carrie to the prom, she accepts, gets drenched, kills people. It felt like the movie was going beat by beat like it was operating off a Carrie movie checklist. Judy Greer does a much better, more memorable job than the original’s Miss Desjardin. Wisely, the movie gives less screentime to Tommy and Billy, our male leads. The rest of the actors seem to be straight out of an Abercrombie catalog. This high school is a collection of scantily clad young people. Maybe this was to make Chloe Moretz look plainer by comparison.
A couple of reviewers have commented that Chloe Moretz is too pretty to play Carrie White. I didn’t find that the case at all because her appearance is incidental. She looks like an abused child. Her demeanor, her body language screams someone who has severe anxiety and social issues. There isn’t an objective standard. The character finds herself unappealing so she’s unappealing and no one can tell her differently. You think there’s never been a attractive victim of child abuse? How many people would say, oh she’s way too attractive to be depressed.
I feel like I keep coming back to the positives. Here’s a massive negative. This movie is PG-13. It is SCREAMING, screaming out for an R-Rating. The Prom scene simply isn’t violent enough. One scene it looks like the school is engulfed in flames. The next scene the fire is out and it looks like most everyone made it out okay. It really needs a more violent conclusion. Otherwise you have Carrie waving her arms and the cut to the school on fire. This is the most important scene in the movie and it falls flat. Part of the reason it falls flat is an overuse of CGI. The blood falling on Carrie looks fake. It doesn’t flow like a believable liquid. When Carrie is attacking the rest of the school she blasts them with waves of telekinetic force like Sauron swinging his big mace. Again, it looks fake.
This is a bit nitpicky, but there are a few moments in the movie where they’re trying to echo the 70s movie. The part where they say “the devil with false modesty” at the prom is a big one. The words don’t fit the modern setting. They should’ve been cut.
I can’t hold this against the movie but here is my biggest disappointment with it. The best part, far and away, is mentally ill Julianne Moore’s relationship with her daughter. Did we really need a Carrie movie for that? There’s a better movie here that we missed out on. I think if Kimberly Peirce had made a movie about Julianne Moore suffering with mental illness and her abusive relationship with her daughter Chloe Moretz, that movie would’ve been Oscar caliber. Maybe it could’ve used a supernatural element. But regardless, there was a better film to be made here with this level of talent and it could’ve been one of the most important female driven movies for this generation. This is top-tier talent and its a damn shame that its being wasted on a subpar remake of another intellectual property. They should say, to the devil with false modesty and make that movie.