2014 Films #4, #5: Carrie (1976), Carrie (2013)

When you have an adaptation as perfect as Brian De Palma’s Carrie, it’s hard to think of a reason why Hollywood needs to reboot it. But that’s what Kimberly Peirce did last year, taking the iconic story of Stephen King’s first novel Carrie and putting a modern spin to it. I’m sorry to say I did not like it.

Carrie was the first King book I read and sparked my love for the author. Seeing it on film for the first time was a great experience, made even greater by De Palma’s masterful execution. Sissy Spacek as the titular character was so terrifying that it was as if the role was created just for her. Spacek’s dedication to the role was so much that she insisted on actually being buried at the final scene, when Sue Snell paid her respects at the White house.

When news broke that a remake was set, I had my doubts. The first film was fantastic as it was, and there is little to improve. Still, I was excited because the book had a special place in my heart. I got around to watching it, and I was disappointed. First, it was casting Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie. I like her, she’s charming, but she doesn’t quite capture Spacek’s vulnerability, and later, anger. Her acting was controlled, unlike Spacek who was not afraid to get down, dirty, and ugly.

The Carrie remake was also not subtle, blatantly pointing out that Carrie is telekinetic. I guess it’s the audience’s lack of patience, but I appreciate how De Palma was understated, often implying to the lead’s powers instead of shoving it in the viewer’s faces. Those unfamiliar with the premise may wonder if she really is telekinetic.

What I do like about the remake is the compelling acting of Julianne Moore as Margaret White, Carrie’s mother. Piper Laurie was scary but Moore gave a fresh take to the role of overzealous mother, and she clearly outshone Moretz. Sadly, this does not save the movie.

On its own, I think Peirce’s version of Carrie is your typical blockbuster movie. But they did a great job for trying.

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