This is the age of CGI; a period in movie history when filmmakers are able to fully convey complicated visuals, due to advances in technology. As a result, the trend within the last couple of decades has been in taking older films, and then re-imagining them with new digital effects. The problem that inevitably results, however, is that many films focus a great deal on the effects, and they do so at the expense of the story itself. Luckily, the remake of the classic horror film “Carrie” does not completely fall victim to this trend, and still manages to present an engaging, entertaining story. This version attempts to bring “Carrie” into the modern era of cell phones and social media, when bullying has now become more than just what happens at school. Despite its dark material, “Carrie” is also a surprisingly fun time, especially now in October, when horror movies are at their prime.
“Carrie” presents the same underlying story of the original novel and film. It is the tale of Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz); an undersized, emotionally distraught young girl in her final year of high school. Most likely due to her over-parenting as a child from her neurotic mother (Julianne Moore), Carrie is soon teased at school, and is outright humiliated after an incident in the women’s locker room. But Carrie soon comes to understand something about herself: if she concentrates hard enough, she can move objects with her mind.
The key points of Carrie’s downward spiral are all presented here, although to varying degrees. Of the group that humiliates Carrie in the locker room, there are some that regret their actions, including Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), while others have no shame about what they did. The worst of them, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), even uploads the video of Carrie in the locker room to YouTube, where eventually the whole school watches it. And when Carrie is humiliated for the last time in the film’s climactic ending, she finally uses her powers to take revenge.
Small touches bring the story of “Carrie” into the modern age. Girls text and talk on cell phones, and through this method can tease one another both on and offline. Bullying is now more than just what happens at school; it can extend into a video on YouTube that everyone sees. And, as has been seen in the last few years, such bullying can have devastating consequences. Think back to less than a year ago of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook, or the countless others that preceded it. The excess bullying of the kids that eventually strike back has often been a contributing factor in their eventual outburst. Although “Carrie” does not push its agenda too aggressively, it still speaks relevance to the younger generation, which has become more than familiar with these truly horrific situations.
Brushing aside the political implications, “Carrie” is also an entertaining romp, filled with some tremendous performances, riveting action sequences, and lots of blood. Chloe Grace Moretz really shines here as the title character, proving, yet again, her star quality and acting talent. While just a few months ago playing the sarcastic, ruthless character Hit-Girl in “Kick-Ass 2,” Moretz has shown yet another side of her personality; that of the frigid, restrained teenager that eventually loses it and becomes rampant. Her final scene, as she stares down at her laughing classmates, wide-eyed and covered in blood; is comparably terrifying to Spacek’s own scene in the original film.
Julianne Moore, as Margaret White, also matches Moretz in nearly every scene. Though at times appearing calm and soothing, Margaret is a constant force of control over the young Carrie, forging a chain that is only broken when Carrie starts to use her powers against her. Moore is truly gruesome and ugly in this role, and, like Moretz, is comparable to Piper Laurie from the original film.
Though impressively acted and directed, “Carrie” nonetheless falls flat at times. The entire film appears to be leading up to the final culminating scene, and when it does come, it is exactly what you ask for – brutal, excessive, and bloody. But, when looking back, much of the movie before this point is really just filler. ”Carrie” is also the story of a girl that discovers she has telepathic powers. Yet, the focus on Carrie using and experimenting with her powers is lacking for much of the film, which instead delves into the power struggles between high school girls. Although these scenes allow the film to become more culturally relevant, they also take away from the fun-time horror aspect. Luckily, though, not too much.
Although the new, re-imagined version of “Carrie” has been updated to the times, and has some cultural relevance as well as impressive visual effects, it still does not quite have the emotional kickback of the original film. But for a good scary October movie, especially in a month that is completely lacking for new horrors, “Carrie” is at least worth a try.