Friday, 10 January 2014

Carrie




Alone in her bedroom, Margaret White (Julianne Moore) gives birth to a baby girl, and immediately intends to kill her, due to religious purposes. However, she changes her mind and we cut to 18 years later as her now teenage daughter Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is at the swimming pool in her school. After an embarrassing lesson, Carrie has her first period in the shower, and due to her mother's religious beliefs and her own lack of knowledge, begins screaming and crying thinking she is dying. While the other girls taunt and bully her, gym teacher Rita (Judy Greer) takes Carrie's side and helps her through school, up until the prom. Feeling sorry for her, popular guy Tommy (Ansel Elgort) asks her to the prom, but others have different plans. 

I feel I should start by saying that I am yet to see the original Carrie, from 1976, although I am well aware that it is considered a classic. Which begs the question, why remake it? This new Carrie is labelled more a "re-imagining" than a remake, but from what I hear it is identical shot for shot. But, for what it's worth, Kimberly Peirce's "re-imagining" is far from the bad film many critics have claimed it as. In fact, I rather enjoyed it. Maybe a lot of this comes down to the fact that I haven't seen the original, nor read the book, and maybe when I do watch the original, this 2013 version will go down in my rankings. But as it currently stands, and as much as there is wrong with it, Carrie is a surprisingly decent little film. 

I am a huge fan of Moretz. Ever since I saw her terrific work in Kick-Ass, I've labelled her the best child actress of the century. Her acting in other films such as 2010's Let Me In, 2011's Hugo was equally as terrific and, heck, she was the only good thing about Movie 43. Her role here just continues this. While she doesn't always come across as the bullied type, she plays this role with a powerful vulnerability that, when it matters, really allows us to sympathise with her. This is probably her best acting since Let Me In. It's a bonus that, here, she is surrounded by equally strong actresses. Julianne Moore's turn as Carrie's crazily religious mother is eccentrically creepy, and Judy Greer plays the concerned gym teacher role well too. 

Carrie itself was given a 15 rating, and for the first half of this film you'll be wondering why. It comes across a bit like a slightly more bully-driven Mean Girls, only good. But, by the time we reach that elusive, globally famous prom scene, this all becomes clear. What this Carrie has on its side is visual effects. Whilst that may take away any realism the original promoted, Carrie is now visually explosive. And with a $30million budget pretty much all for the final act, this pays off. I get the impression this final scene is on a much larger scale than that of the original, but either way, it works. Mostly. 

The problem is, we know it's coming. There's no surprise factor, no shock. But, to make this even worse, Peirce builds us up to it far too much. Maybe she was giving in to the fact that audiences will expect it, but going on about the prom in every, and even shows us the other characters preparing for it is overkill. This was a scene that could have been left out, we all know it's coming, so why play it out even longer? By the time it does come, whilst it is visually impressive, you can't help but feel underwhelmed by it all. For me, the strongest scenes all take place in Carrie's home, with her mother. In fact, the final scene in their home is probably the best scene of the film. This is where more of Peirce's attention should have gone, instead of trying to turn an already classic scene into her own. 

But, Carrie is enjoyable. As a horror film it doesn't really work, it relies on special effects far too much and is never really scary, but as a supernatural thriller, it feels more at home. The acting is strong throughout and a more modern version does work, subtle uses of social networking in the film feel right, and the representation of bullying seems pretty accurate. Carrie's problem is that it is a remake. But, it doesn't feel like a remake of a film, it feels like a remake of a scene, sandwiched between relentless build up and a brief come down. The prom scene is probably this Carrie's weakest moment. Had Peirce let her imagination flow a bit more, and actually attempted to let her Carrie be its own film, she could have made something really special. Carrie is far from a bad film, it just could have been a lot better. 

To Summarise: It's not particularly scary, nor thoughtful, but Kimberly Peirce's "Carrie" is a well acted, visually impressive remake, with just enough depth to keep it interesting. 


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