Thursday, October 31, 2013

CARRIE (2013)

Written by Lawrence D. Cohen & Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Directed by Kimberly Peirce

Where & When:  Arclight Cinemas, Hollywood, CA.  October 25, 2013 5:45PM

"Carrie"  is an uninspired and unnecessary remake of the classic 1976 film by Brian De Palma which was based on the debut novel by Stephen King. The film clumsily attempts to modernize this tragic tale of a a bullied girl pushed too far by merging the quiet, simpler setting of the original with the fast-paced, digital age we are currently living without much finesse or reason. The story essentially remains the same as Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) remains a shy, sheltered and God-fearing teenager living in Maine. She has been forced to attend public school as a senior against the wishes of her extremely devout mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore) who had been home-schooling her daughter. It should be no surprise that Carrie has difficulty fitting in with the other kids.

While showering after gym class, Carrie has her first period but since she has never been given proper sex education, this causes her to thinks she is dying. Freaking out in front of the other girls, Carrie is taunted and tampons thrown at her until Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer), the gym teacher puts a stop to the cruelty. However, Chris (Portia Doubleday), the leader of the mean girls filmed the ugly episode on her phone and secretly uploads it on YouTube.

The video is later discovered and Miss Dejardin informs her students that they will have to endure a brutal gym class as punishment with anyone who didn't finish would be unable to attend prom. Playing victim, Chris refuses to participate and tries to start a coup with the other girls but no one will join her. A furious Chris blames Carrie for her trouble and determined to get back at her.

Carrie soon discovers that she has a special gift; the ability to move objects with her mind. She researches telekinesis and learns how to control her powers. Carrie wishes she could share this with someone but with no friends along with a fanatic mother who intensely believes that fornication (even with one's spouse) is pure evil and already fears her daughter is heading down a path in to Satan's arms, she has no one to confide in.

Feeling guilty for her participation in teasing Carrie, Sue (Gabriella Wilde) decides that the gym teacher's punishment didn't go far enough. She insists that her boyfriend, Tommy (Ansel Elgort) take Carrie to the prom instead of her. Although both are reluctant and wary, Tommy eventually talks Carrie in to attending the event with him. When Chris hears the news, she creates an elaborate plan to ruin Carrie's night which involves rigging the election so the couple win prom king and queen and a bucket of pig's blood. However, she has no idea who she's messing with as Carrie, in a blind rage, releases a torrent of blood and mayhem all on her own.

I really hate to bash director Kimberly Peirce for this disaster as this is only her third feature film since her terrific debut, "Boys Don't Cry" way back in 1997. Her follow-up film, the underrated "Stop-Loss" didn't happen until over ten years later. It's hard not to believe that her gender played at least some part in this lack of output as a male counterpart with as much buzz for their first film that she received would most certainly have made at least double that number by this point. It's understandable why Ms Peirce would be brought on board for this remake as she could deliver some emotional heft to this horror flick but the director seems overwhelmed by the scale of this production. She's had little experience with a budget this large and with worrying about the big, visual effects and attempting to distance her version from the legacy of the first film while maintaining the spirit, Peirce is unable to find the right tone or direction.

Ms Moretz may be closer to the age of the character than the original actress who portrayed her, Sissy Spacek (who was twenty-seven and meaning no offense to the Oscar winner) but she is simply too pretty to be convincing as the plain and awkward Carrie. The now sixteen year old actress has been a professional actor since a child and has impressed in varied roles but here she appears lost as Ms Moretz doesn't register as an unpopular outsider. The twitchy, exaggerated facial expressions the actress displays hardly helps matters. The supporting cast seems to have been raided from an episode of "Gossip Girl" with the high schoolers all uniformly attractive and bland, and I had great difficulty telling them apart (male or female). The only one who comes out of this mess relatively unscathed is obvious. The veteran Julianne Moore is completely wasted yet she's able make the brief moments she's on screen electrifying with another reliably razor-sharp performance.

Even if you take the De Palma feature out of the equation and judge.this new version of "Carrie" on it's own merits, it still offers nothing that could possibly make this exercise in routine film making remotely worth viewing. By the time the film reaches it's climax at the high school prom, the results are less terrifying and more laughable with cheap, ineffective scares.