October 18, 2013
The story of "Carrie" is by now is a very well-known story. It was first a best-selling novel in 1973 by master of horror fiction, Stephen King, his first novel. It had already been given a film treatment in 1976 by another master of suspense, Brian de Palma, with Oscar nominated performances by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. Locally, there had just been a musical theater version of the same story which just closed last weekend, with Mikkie Bradford and Menchu Lauchengco (my review posted HERE).
Carrie White is a teenage girl severely sheltered by her fanatically religious mother Margaret. She is a victim of bullying at school, especially by Chris Hargensen and her gang. When Chris goes overboard with her cruelty, her good friend Sue Snell felt very guilty. Sue asks her boyfriend Tommy Ross to take Carrie to the prom. Carrie defies her mother's prohibition and accepts her prom date. Of course, Chris will not let Carrie have her fun. Little did they know the powerful telekinetic abilities that mousy little Carrie possesses!
My main interest to see this film is for the performance of Chloe Grace Moretz in the title character. It was brave of her to take on the very memorable, star-making, signature performance given by Sissy Spacek in 1976. But Chloe manages to hold her own with her own spark of innocence. Chloe gives us a very sensitive performance as the troubled Carrie. Her face is extraordinarily expressive even with the minimum of words she says.
Julianne Moore gives an over-the-top yet sympathetic portrayal of Margaret White with her Biblical mumblings and self-mutilation. Compared to Piper Laurie's portrayal of Margaret in 1976, Moore was more miserably anguished in this version, while Laurie was more raving mad in the original.
Gabriella Wilde and Ansel Elgort who play Sue and Tommy respectively, are both very attractive, and do well enough in their roles. Portia Doubleday and Alex Nolan, who play the villains Chris and Billy, do alright, though they did not have a good enough screen presence in my opinion. It will be interesting to see if any of these young stars will achieve the career status of their 1976 equivalents, namely Amy Irving, William Katt, Nancy Allen or the biggest eventual star of them all, John Travolta. That does not seem too likely now, but we'll never know, can we?
If you compare this version with the 1976 version, you can recall scenes done almost exactly alike with practically similar lines. You can see similarities in little details of the production design, like the ruffles on the tux Tommy tries on, or the stars decorating the prom venue ceiling. There is none of the nudity seen in the opening credits now, nor are there the "Psycho"-like musical cues whenever Carrie uses her powers.
What I thought this production did wrong was unduly going overboard with computer-generated special effects. The director Kimberly Peirce seemed to have had too much fun with these new "toys" to the detriment of her film. This advanced technology should have been this film's distinct advantage over the 1976 version, but the blatant lack of subtlety is jarring. Carrie can fly. Carrie can cause an entire street to break open with a single stomp. I guess you get the picture. Brian de Palma was able to create a tenser and scarier atmosphere at the prom and the house at the end with much less technology in the original film.
This 2013 film version is no means really necessary, but here it is. Still I think it is still worth the time to witness the acting of Moretz and Moore. It is just too bad that the overwhelming unrestrained CGI extravaganza did them all in towards the end. 6/10.