The Film (2.5/5)
I don't look forward to remakes. There are exceptions to the rule if the first film was not great, and had room for improvement (Prom Night for example), I might catch the remake to see if the filmmaker were able to do something better with the preexisting material. The only other case is when a filmmaker who I know has a distinctive cinematic vision, whether that is visual or just a perspective that is singularly their own comes forward to remake a film then I get interested. The horror genres best remakes were back in the 80's and handled by directors such as David Croenberg (The Fly), Philip Kaufman (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), and John Carpenter (The Thing). In the last decade, however, remakes have been less about a new vision for material, and more about generating profit with a popular title and so it is rare that I find myself sitting through one of these films.
In the last year, however, 2 remakes were directed by crafted by filmmakers whose previous work I have respected. We have had Oldboy directed by Spike Lee, and now we have Kimberly Peirce director of Stop-Loss and Boys Don't Cry up to bat with her remake/reimagining of Carrie. When Peirce was attached as the director of Carrie I managed to find myself getting a little bit excited. If there were any filmmaker that would be able to get into Carrie and do something new with the material it was her, and in a way she certainly succeeded. Unfortunately, those elements appear to be buried with the focus on the the DePalma Film. Carrie 2013 for all intents and purposes relies quite a bit too much on the DePalma film rather than the King book as a template. This is made obvious by the fact the the writers credit is shared with the writer of the DePalma original, and so while the film occasionally felt like DePalma's Carrie 2013, there were elements of Peirce's vision sprinkled throughout the film within the visual subtext, and one can almost sense there may have been a different film hidden somewhere within the footage shot that may have been altered to align itself more with the original.
The film as it stands now, is fine as a new generation version of Carrie. This is a film for my middle-school age daughter and her friends that might be reluctant to watch the 38 year old original film version. It is a film that cast people that look familiar to her and her friends, and updates a story that could be told for any generation. It also does so much better than the made-for-tv Carrie remake of a decade ago.
If there is another film I find comparable to Peirce's Carrie it would be another remake, Tom Savini's 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead. If for no other reason than both films tend to be near straight remakes of their source material with just minor tonal shifts, and a lead character that switches up from a passive participant in their fate to an active participant in the events of the plot. In Savini's film he took the Barbara character who was practically catatonic in the first film, and turned her into a Canon films action here (the film was actually produced by Golan and Globus). In Carrie 2013, the version of Carrie portrayed here by Chloe Grace Moretz differs from Sissy Spacek by actively questioning her telekinetic condition, and sharpening her skills with it not unlike a superhero like Spider-Man would practice with their powers before fighting crime. Incidentally, this viewpoint was confirmed in the commentary where Pierce mentions that she views the film as a superhero origin story. My question after hearing that is, a superhero fighting what?
She stands up to her bullies in an act of mass murder an act that is more in line with a super-villain than hero. The Spacek/DePalma variation of Carrie showed a young woman coming to terms with the events unfolding around her, no she isn't facing them head on, and maybe that makes her a weaker character in the eyes of modern viewers, but it does make the DePalma picture stand out as more of a tragedy when compared to the Peirce version.
I do happen to disagree with the popular opinion that Chloe Grace Moretz was too cute to play Carrie. I found her performance reasonable considering the material and direction of the film. However, the highlight of the film belongs to Julianne Moore for her portrayal of Margaret White. While she isn't the terrorizing dynamo that Piper Laurie brought to the screen in 1976, she is certainly her own beast, and offers a dynamic and horrifying portrayal of a woman savaged by her own paranoia, coupled with her religious beliefs.
The film for those who don't know tells the story of teenage Carrie White. A young woman who has been raised by her psychotically religious Mother, and sheltered to the point that she does not understand her own biology. One day after gym class she receives her first period while in the showers, and immediately begins to think she is bleeding to death. Rather, than help a confused and traumatized peer the other girls in the class start pelting her with tampons and chant plug it up while one of the girls Chris records the incident on her cell phone. After this incident Carrie begins to develop telekinetic powers, which she begins to harness. She ends up invited to the school prom, where the bullying continues, and Carrie will have her revenge.
MGM/Fox have released Carrie in an excellent looking 2:35:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer (seriously, I wish the original were allowed to look this good). The detail on this transfer is excellent, as are the colors, and the black levels are quite deep in the night sequences.
The audio for the film has been presented in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English. The audio sounds excellent with dialogue coming through nicely, as does the films score, and effects track. I did not detect (or even expect) any instances of pops, cracks, or hissing on the track.
MGM/Fox have put together a decent slate of extras for their Blu-ray release of Carrie. The disc kicks off with a commentary track by director Kimberly Peirce. We also get an alternate ending, and a series of deleted scenes. A making of documentary with the cast and crew called Creating Carrie. There are a few minutes of dailies from the film that show how the FX for one of the scenes was accomplished. There is also a discussion of telekinesis as it portrayed in the film, a gag feature that shows a coffee shop in NYC being rigged with a fake telekinetic person. There is also a theatrical trailer, and previews for other upcoming films.
Carrie is not a necessary remake, as it tends to follow the same script and beats precisely from the original film very closely. Considering the director, I sort of expected more from the film than a straight remake of the film, so I was more disappointed with this remake then I typically am with the ones that have been coming out of Hollywood this last decade. The A/V on the Blu-ray is quite nice, and the extras are a nice addition. That being said I didn't like the movie enough to recommend it, and the extras and A/V don't really push it over the edge. Watch Carrie if you're curious how it compares, otherwise Not Recommended.