CARRIE Review

by     Posted 284 days ago

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Director Kimberley Peirce wants her remake of Carrie to mean something, but she can’t seem to figure out what.  Brian De Palma‘s original adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel is a classic, but Peirce’s attempt to distinguish her new movie is as scattershot as it gets.  While she does manage to slightly tap into the tragic element of the story, all of the characters and themes are far too underdeveloped to have any meaning.  We may know where the Carrie White (played by a miscast Chloe Grace Moretz) is going, but the director is too busy speeding through to truly take stock of the darkness that surrounds the troubled protagonist.

The film opens with a gripping scene of Margaret White (Julianne Moore), an evangelical Christian who didn’t know she was pregnant, giving birth to a baby girl.  Margaret’s first instinct is to kill her daughter with a pair of scissors, but then she decides to spare and raise the child.  Cutting forward to Carrie’s teenage years, we see a shy, unpopular girl who is so ignorant of her body that she thinks she’s dying when she has her period in the shower.  The cruelest of her bullies, Chris (Portia Doubleday), records the incident on her cell phone, and uploads it to the Internet.  The pretty, popular girl Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) and gym teacher Ms. Desjardin (Judy Greer) take pity on Carrie, and show her some kindness. But more than school, Carrie fears her mother.  However, Carrie has a secret—she’s telekinetic, and nothing boosts confidence like having a superpower.

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There’s really no reason for someone as pretty and reserved as Carrie to be so bullied.  Part of the problem is casting Moretz, who is a great actress, but is simply too pretty.  At most, she’s the ugliest girl at Supermodel High where she’s surrounded by beautiful people.  Moretz is constantly trying to act past her appearance by looking diminutive and speaking in a quiet voice, but it’s a big stretch to think that no guy would find her attractive.   Furthermore, it’s difficult to understand why Carrie would be singled out by her classmates.  It’s possible she could be bullied for no good reason, but it would be far more interesting if she acted awkward rather than just felt awkward.  Her classmates call her “weird” and “crazy”, but the only thing we’re told she’s actually done (we never see it) is when Chris points out that Carrie deserves to be bullied because, “Her and her mother are always telling people they’re going to hell.”

While Maragret is clearly twisted and given over to self-abuse and reclusiveness, none of that has passed on to the gentle Carrie.  Moore plays the role well, but Peirce never gives mother or daughter much room to have intimate moments.  Carrie quickly becomes fascinated of her newfound telekinesis, and Maragret simply walks around her house being crazy.  Their unhealthy relationship is depicted as a given, and any moments of conflict such as Margaret locking Carrie in a closet seem fairly tame, especially when we consider the opening scene.

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Margaret’s zealotry is one of many aspects that’s briefly brought up, but never built upon.  The same goes for bullying, motherhood, female relationships, and the symbolism of blood.  When Carrie gets locked in her closet, there’s a crucifix, and then it starts bleeding from stigmata because of…God?  It’s not like Carrie is a Christ figture.  There’s plenty of blood in the movie, but there’s barely a hint of the relationship between religion and female sexuality beyond the Bible making women—in this case Carrie and Maragret—feel ashamed about their bodies.  But as we see in the locker room scene, so do other women.  And then it all gets lost by the time Carrie flies into her infamous rage at the prom.

This is the story’s signature scene, and Peirce either wants to revel in it or feels obligated to do so.  Either way, all attempts at finding something more meaningful in the story go out the window as the director engages in a special effects blowout  designed to make us cheer when we really we should feel pity towards this poor girl who was humiliated at her moment of ultimate happiness.  Carrie isn’t really a horror film.  It’s not scary.  It’s a tragedy, and Peirce would rather have a big action scene than let us feel for a very angry girl who is surprisingly calculated in her rampage.

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The 1976 adaptation is untouchable, but Peirce had plenty of places to go.  She just seems to have no idea what direction she should take.  It’s frustrating and confusing that she should waste time on Chris’ resentment or Carrie developing her telekinesis, especially when that time could be used for some great character scenes with Margaret.  Rather than take a moment that would better illustrate Carrie’s personality, the story is reduced to trudging through plot beats, and they’re plot beats we already know.  Carrie may pretend to be about a variety of themes, but it doesn’t care to give them any weight.  Instead, the movie spends far more energy on the classic blood dump, and is more concerned with making a splash than making us care about Carrie White.

Rating: D

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  • name

    No surprises here

    • Fitzchiv

      have you actually seen the film?

  • axalon

    I like that Matt actually gives suggestions on where the film could have been improved. Good review!

    • Fitzchiv

      how can you tell its a good review if you havent actually seen the film? what have you to compare it against?

      • axalon

        …because the review itself is good? Regardless of what I think of the film, Matt did a good job explaining his point of view and why he rated it what he did.

        I know Goldberg gets a lot of hate around here but unlike a lot of other reviewers he actually gives points for improvement, which I personally enjoy.

  • J

    The fact that you think Chloe is too pretty to be Carrie on is unrealistic. Girls do pick on pretty girls because they are jealous of their looks. Also, in the book, Stephen King wrote Carrie as a very pretty girl.

    • Terry Powell

      I reread the book last year. Carrie is decribed as kind of chubby and pimply. She may not have been ugly but she wasn “very pretty”.

      • ThisGuy01

        Carrie as described in Stephen King’s book: “She was a chunky girl with pimples on her neck and and buttocks, her wet hair completely without color.”
        NOT the cute little blond with big duck lips who every pervert on the planet is counting down the days to when she’s legal.

  • Hari

    This is what happens when you hire a director based off gender.

  • Romsy

    The original Carrie is a classic? Sorry, no. It’s as B movie as it gets.

    • IMPYEMU

      Do you watch a lot of B Movies? A B-Movie is something like Pirahna 3D or Machete Kills, not a movie like Carrie, which like Matt pointed out isn’t even really a Horror story until the third act as much as it is a drama with a supernatural twist.

      The original may not be perfect Cinema, but if you don’t think that, for a horror film made in the 70′s, Brian De Palma’s camera work, along with the split-screen editing and music score during the Prom scene, isn’t quality filmmaking, then it’s your loss.

      • Fitzchiv

        the original carrie was totally a ‘b’ movie, what do you think b-movie actually means? and machete kills is an homage to b-movies and exploitation pics, its as far from an actual b-movie as you can get! b-movie’s are traditionally low budget genre features, which the original carrie was, machete kills however is a reasonably large budget studio movie! the original carrie was awesome though, brilliant performances throughout and de’palma really shone!

      • IMPYEMU

        I’m not taking budgets into account, by that definition any horror film with a low budget would be a B movie. I’m speaking in terms of tone and the quality of the film, and in that regard Machete Kills would MOST definitely be a B-Movie and Carrie would not be.

      • Fitzchiv

        look up the definition of b-movie dude, theres this amazing site called ‘wikipedia’, it might come in handy for you in the future! and yes, any low budget horror flick could be classed as a b-movie in the strict sense of the term! just because a movie aims for the tone and aesthetic of 70′s exploitation pics and b-movies doesnt make them a b-movie, robert rodriguez often uses b-movie motifs in his films while wielding a hefty budget, the machete movies are a prime example! the style he employs in such movies is hugely contrived, whereas actual b-movies have that style imposed on them because they dont have the money for better camera’s, production costs etc.. what age are you by the way? are you like 12?

      • IMPYEMU

        Fuck off

  • Robert

    Matt, do you know anything about teenage girls? Pretty girls talk shit and bully each other just as much as anyone else.

    • Alex

      No, he doesn’t. He just hates almost every movie, unless it’s an indie of course.

  • jack

    Teenage girls will find absolutely anything in order to bully each other. Being reserved or quiet is reason enough. You clearly don’t know what you’re talking about…I think we should get the female perspective on this. Get one of the female writers to review this.

    • jack

      the movie may be crap, but I’m sure there are better reasons to point out then she’s too pretty to be picked on.

    • IMPYEMU

      I agree with you, but I think you should also note that Moretz has become something of a teenage sex symbol (despite her age). She’s not just another pretty actress, there are literally thousands of people obsessed with her who see all her movies regardless of genre and quality. Taking this in mind, it may be hard for someone like Matt to see her as being picked on so much, when you know that in reality it would probably be the opposite. That’s why it’s called acting, and I’m inclined to think that Matt felt Moretz didn’t really pull that off.

      I haven’t seen the movie yet though, so I can’t know for sure. but Matt wasn’t the only person who thought she was miscast when she was first announced.

      And I’m saying this as a fan of her performances in the original Kick-Ass and Let Me In.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sangbaran Sam

    Whoa ..a D!!

    Hollywood reporter gave a much better review.

  • Fitzchiv

    DTMR!!!!!!! Dont Trust Matt’s Reviews!

    • Strong Enough

      fuck off!

      • Reality Check

        HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
        Tell me about it!

      • Fitzchiv

        you dont get out much do you?

      • Fitzchiv

        make me fuck face.

      • The Flobbit

        Your comment should read “Make me, fuck face.” You are asking him to make you f-ck someone’s face. Commas. Use them.

      • Fitzchiv

        i like fucking faces, particularly your moms.

      • Pk

        Just ignore that strong enough loser. He just needs a reason to hate Chloe moretz for no reason

      • Pk

        Just ignore that strong enough loser. He just needs a reason to hate Chloe moretz for no reason

      • The Flobbit

        There is a little voice in my head that is telling me that replying to an idiot like you would be to stoop to your level. So wallow in your own wit, you clot-headed dolt.

      • The Flobbit

        There is a little voice in my head that is telling me that replying to an idiot like you would be to stoop to your level. So wallow in your own wit, you clot-headed dolt.

      • Fitzchiv

        i like fucking faces, particularly your moms.

  • The Flobbit

    For once, a good review, Matt. I always knew Chloe was not a match for the mousy, dimunitive Carrie. They should have gone for someone else.

  • ChloeFan123q2

    dude who gives a shti if the movie sucks, as long as chloe looks good thats all I need so i can masturbate to finish when watching this :D

    • The Flobbit

      Go and hide in your mother’s basement. I’m calling someone to pick you up in a padded van.

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