In keeping with Hollywood’s preoccupation with remaking, it seems, just about every film existing; the decision to remake Carrie was not a surprising one. The director, Kimberly Peirce, has given the film a woman’s touch as well as added a more modern feel to the story but loses the sexuality. Modern touches do not a good film make, it just brings the subject a little closer to this generation’s understanding.
Brian De Palma’s original 1976 film with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie has the same sort of rough feel that Stephen King’s debut novel did. King has gone on record to say that he wasn’t too thrilled with the finished product of his book and, to be honest, it is not one of his better works. But De Palma followed the book fairly well and only the lack of a budget kept the director from giving it the grand finale it deserved.
In Peirce’s remake, Chloë Grace Moretz is this generation’s Sissy Spacek and Julianne Moore is the Piper Laurie in this modernizing tale of telekinesis terror. However, as more than one reviewer has noted, this remake lacks “teeth.” It has lost something in it’s updating of the story by including the issue of video/internet bullying. In the obligatory shower scene, the “mean” girls who taunt Carrie White go that step further and film the distressed young girl with their ubiquitous cell phones and post them later on Facebook.
Considering that King told his tale of White woe in a time before the internet and cell phones, the introduction of the device is annoying and it takes away from the very personal feel of the original. King has said in many interviews that he had gone to school with Carrie Whites. Everyone has. The memories of high school misfits who, for whatever reason, fell outside the social system of acceptability are clear to anyone who went to public school.
Unfortunately, Peirce’s decision to shoot the film from the “female” perspective and doing away with the sexual theme behind Carrie’s “awakening” and her mother’s deep rooted hate of her addiction to the sex act that gave her Carrie, lets the film down. It removes the fear, that perhaps, is not so prevalent in todays teen girls. Admittedly, in this day and age of the internet and societies serious sexualizing of children, it probably is not so scary. Young girls today apparently fear the actual act of sex less than their fear of not fitting in.
The Carrie remake adds the modern touches of internet bullying, but has lost the hard edge of sexuality that was prevalent in De Palma’s first effort of the book’s adaptation.
The director, and her young star Moretz, have claimed that the exclusion of the steam filled shower with all that teen female flesh spied through the clouds was because that was a man’s version of what the girl’s shower room would entail. The implication being that it was included just so the male animal could salivate at all that nubile naked and near naked teenage flesh. Never mind that almost every actress in the scene was no teenager in real life.
But what Peirce seems to have missed is the scenes setting up of Carrie White as secluded individual. The “normal” socially accepted girls all had no problem appeared unclothed or partially clothed in front of the other girls. Regardless of the fact that in girl’s shower rooms no one would really parade around like that, it sets up one more layer of White’s separateness. Her “strangeness” keeps her from feeling comfortable in this “innocuous” setting.
It can be argued that the remakes use of Carrie seeing the shower as some sort of respite or refuge shows a similar theme, but it loses the power of the original scene.
The other difference is the actions and motivation of Mrs White. Played with a strained religious, and damned frightening, zeal by Piper Laurie in the original, Ma White had a very odd relationship with her daughter. A real love/hate feeling that exuded from the woman’s very pores as well as her fear that Carrie might just wind up getting “with child” from some young man, and liking it.
Julianne Moore is brilliant as momma White, but her zealousness has been tempered with too much love for her daughter. The original film’s mother was too bedbug crazy to ever love anyone that much. But it is not Moore’s fault, it is the script’s direction and the director’s vision.
Unfortunately, the director’s vision lets Moretz down. The overly talented actress who blew up the screen in Kick Ass 1 & 2; who turned in a brilliant performance as the child vampire in Let Me In, has been restricted by a mediocre script and a director who wanted to remove all the sexual tension from the core of the film.
Brian De Palma’s vision of King’s book was not perfect, the inclusion of the prom clothes scene proves that, but it was damned good for all the restrictions that existed for a lower budget horror film back in the 1970’s. The Carrie remake adds a modern touch, but leaves out the sexuality that made the original work so well. It doesn’t bring anything else to the table to make the film a worthy effort. It is just one more Hollywood remake like too many others out there already.
By Michael Smith