I wonder if anybody remembers the disaster that was Gus Van Sant’s scene-for-scene remake of Psycho with Vince Vaughn. It was a disaster. Well, so is this. It’s a shame, because a few days before seeing the screening I read an interview in the New York Times with director Kimberly Pierce. It got me fired up about seeing the movie.
Pierce dealt with a teenage outcast wonderfully in Boys Don’t Cry (Hilary Swank). She mentioned being a lesbian and relating to high school kids that are picked on. Certainly with all the bullying we’ve heard about lately, it’s a timely remake.
I think of remakes differently, I suppose. When the punk band X did a cover of The Doors song “Soul Kitchen,” they made it a punk version. Perhaps if filmmakers want to remake a movie, they can try coming at it from a different perspective or go deeper into the original ideas. Certainly posting a nasty video on You Tube that humiliates Carrie was a step in the right direction. They just didn’t go far enough.
Another problem with this is that most people are familiar with the original. We loved Sissy Spacek, John Travolta, and Piper Laurie in the original. This movie replaces them with Julianne Moore, who works well enough as the religious nut-job trying to raise Carrie.
Carrie White is played by Chloe Grace Moretz. It’s easily the worst casting decision of the year. Her character is home-schooled and shows up at public school for the first time. She looks like she’s “acting scared.” Spacek had a nature look of being shell-shocked and bewildered. You also get the feeling she’s cute enough that she’d have a few guys interested in her, or that she’d use her mad Ninja skills from Kick-Ass on anybody that crossed her.
The P.E. teacher is played by Judy Greer. It’s strange that in a movie in which the director purposely wanted kids that looked like kids (unlike the 24-year-old John Travolta in Grease or the 26-year-old Spacek in Carrie), we get a P.E. teacher that looks and sounds just like one of the kids.
After being tormented in the shower after P.E., a video is posted online. A popular girl gets suspended over it. She decides she’ll get revenge on Carrie, while the other girl that participated feels guilty, and convinces her boyfriend to take Carrie to prom. That seemed unbelievable on so many levels.
Carrie starts to realize she can move objects with her mind (in Stephen King’s book in 1974, this happened after she had her first period).
Brian De Palma was a good director, and he showed it with his many subtle touches in Carrie. For example, Carrie didn’t move her hands around like she was conducting an orchestra, when she wanted a knife to fly through the air.
Peirce can’t pull these subtleties off. That would’ve been fine, if she would’ve just given us a few scares. There’s not a single scene in this that gets you jumping out of your seat.
I also got sick of every kid in the school referring to Carrie by her first and last name, “Carrie White.” It was more annoying than that kid on the boat calling the tiger “Richard Parker” every few minutes.
With Halloween around the corner, perhaps a better suggestion is to rent the original – even if it comes off as a bit campy and dated.
I’ll give this ½ star out of 5, for Moore’s performance and for it inspiring the best prank I’ve seen in a long time (you can find that online searching for the girl in the coffee shop getting mad at her boyfriend).