For the last review of this year’s Horrortoberfest, I figured I’d go see something that was actually in theatres. I’ll admit that I actually didn’t really care all that much for the original 1976 version of Carrie but I liked a lot of the actresses in the remake so I figured I’d give it a chance. If you somehow were unaware of the plot, both movies follow the unpopular and weird Carrie as she begins to discover she’s going through some changes. Just when things start to go her way BAM some pig’s blood gets on her at prom and all hell breaks loose.
This was definitely a very close remake rather than an entire reimagining of the story. Most of the same scenes play out with the same dialogue as in the original and many of the shots are similar as well. However, it’s really in how the characters and specifically Chloe Grace Moretz’s Carrie reacts to and interacts with the world that sets it apart. One of the other main things that sets it apart is there is definitely a bit more escalation in the what occurs. The shower scene where Carrie gets her period is updated and now you have one of the girls that films the humiliation on her phone making the whole thing even more horrible. The other big one being the prom scene that ends up being longer and much more involved than in the first one, though I will get to that later and why I actually like that decision instead of just looking at it as Hollywood trying to blockbusterify the original.
The biggest difference here is how the character of Carrie reacts to the problems that she faces. Sissy Spacek played the character as essentially already defeated. She has been beaten down to the point where she is no longer really able to relate to others and even the discovery of her powers is more a matter of curiosity. We see a girl that has withdrawn inside herself and even the final prom scene she is cold and distant; methodically killing those around her without reaction. In this latest version we see a Carrie that instead is still full of life. She has been beaten and abused but is still fighting back. She also finds joy in her newfound abilities and exploring the boundaries of what she is capable of. In that final prom scene we also see an exultation in taking revenge. She smiles and moves and controls what is happening with an emotional surge of mingled hatred at those that have wronged her and joy in being able to fully unleash her potential. We also have a much longer and more drawn out prom scene especially the vengeance on her main tormentor. The movie savors and delights in the acts just as much as she does.
Both movies use the onset of these telekinetic powers as a metaphor for the changes that we go through as teens dealing with puberty and hormones and also deciding what we want to do with our lives. It is a time where we are changing and discovering ourselves and testing what the limits we have are in the world. Where the new version really outshines the original, in my opinion, is the character’s handling of these changes. She seems much more inclined to engage in that self-discovery and in finding herself. The original really felt more like a story about how once a woman gets her period she becomes totally unpredictable and might fly off the handle. This new version instead seems to focus on embracing the power that comes with being a woman and the joy that comes from realizing your own abilities.
The movies also does a great job of showing how pretty much every adult in Carrie’s life is incompetent or an asshole. The gym teacher that totally cares about her straight up slaps her and then spends much of the movie giving shitty advice and being bad at her job. The principal is just a sweaty, bumbling mess that isn’t able to deal with anyone. Her English teacher straight up makes fun of her in front of the class. Finally, Julianne Moore does a wonderful stint as the zealot mother and makes the character a bit more believable and scary than even the original film. The main “mean girl” and her boyfriend are also far more psychotic and aware of just how awful they are in this version. In all I give this a 4 out of 5. It isn’t breaking any new ground cinematically but it certainly takes the story in a way that feels more satisfying.