I have tried to keep an open mind when it comes to most horror movies though I occasionally slip up, and judge too hastily some movies that are deserving of a day in court. I’m human (or some kind of humanoid) and the fact is that I’m subject to the same whims and flights of poor judgment that anyone can fall victim to. Case in point. The remake of Carrie. Upon initially hearing about the upcoming remake I pretty much decided I didn’t care. I’d watch it, but I wasn’t going to go see it in the theater unless I got the opinion from a reputable source that it was clearly worth spending the overpriced ticket value to see on the big screen. I was comfortable with the concept of a remake for Carrie. It’s been remade. It had a sequel of some variety though I haven’t cared enough to actually see it. What harm could another remake do?
Of course the next step was catching the trailer for the remake in front of a horror movie I was going to review (can’t remember which one just now). I couldn’t believe how much the damn thing gave away. Then I was reminded by a friend that 1970’s trailers used to giveaway the entire movie. I felt okay about it realizing that there must be more to the movie than what was shown in the trailer. Why would anyone go see it if it was a remake and the entire thing was open for business before you even bought a ticket? The trailer would air before every movie I would see from then on. I would come across it to the point of oversaturation and gradually I began to detest it. It was like a Scotchguard ad. Something completely disposable that I wasn’t going to use anyway except maybe to huff. Add the telephone call marketing campaign where you get to talk to Carrie White just before her mother does “something” to her, thrust, repeat and pass the vomitorium. It was becoming very difficult to stay unbiased or even care about the upcoming theatrical release, but I stuck to my guns. If I got word that it was something “worth seeing” from one of the reviewers I follow (and yes I read certain reviewers from time to time) then I would pay the ticket and kick the bloody bucket.
October came. No Paranormal Activity movie in the Halloween slot and by God, Carrie was upon me. The reviews poured in… bad. Worthless. Not worth seeing, and simply “unnecessary”. That was the review I heard most of all…. Unnecessary. Was it because it was a remake or because fans couldn’t get over the retelling? I figured I’d better wait to find out because I really didn’t want to bust my wallet for a busted movie. January would come soon enough. I could enjoy it in my home and watch it cell phone free without sticking to the floor. Hell, it wasn’t like they were still showing these damn things on film. At this point the bias in me had grown something fierce. Though I hadn’t seen the movie I felt like I had an opinion. This is a bad place to be in for a reviewer. We like blank slates. Fresh clean minds. I’d have to play kick the can to get the comments I’ve heard out of my damn brain (if you get that reference you are reading the right site).
That brings us to judgment day. I received Carrie to enjoy at my leisure. I was ready to forget all the negative internet babble I had heard, and I was actually feeling quite good about having had several months free of opinions and box office numbers. I think I actually managed to get just a little excited to see what the buzz was NOT about. The movie opens strong with a very familiar public shower scene, well executed and creating a great deal of sympathy from this reviewer. Chloe Moretz actually looked and felt that part. Well done. I was ready to go. Bring on the goddamn pig’s blood.
That is when this naïve viewer realized what was about to happen. Little did I know that Brian DePalma’s work would be so hastily thrown through a woodchipper and spit back it me… digitized, computerized, without split screen without Donnagio’s score and without Sissy Spacek or Piper Laurie.
Gone was the sense of 70’s style and in it’s place stood a poor replica of nostalgia throwback clothing that was the stuff of hipster fantasy. The movie was lit wrong, bright… without depth or shadow. The movie felt as though it was nearly a shot by shot replica of DePalma though done with modern filmmaking techniques and with bits added into to flesh out a well paced story that needed no fleshing. There are scenes that were lit so perfectly in DePalma’s Carrie that were made to look like center stage under the big top. There are faces made by Moretz that belong better in a black metal music video and not in a well choreographed kill sequence.
My greatest fear was that the trailer would be a premonition of the entire movie; the trailer would in fact show all the awesome scenes in the movie leaving me with filler for the remainder of the movie. This was not entirely realized as the opening sequence was quite good, but beyond that I’m afraid that I got a damn good idea about what I was in for from the trailer and should have heeded its warning. Moretz and Julianne Moore aren’t bad mind you. That is clearly not the case. They do the best they can with the material that was written and the direction given. The making of feature and interview with Kimberly Peirce affirm that this is a script/filmmaker issue and not an accomplished actor problem. Moretz would be rather enjoyable as Carrie White if you’d just give her scenes in which she could act like Carrie White. Julianne Moore cannot possibly put up the Piper Laurie chops. No one should be asked to do that. Laurie was nominated for an Oscar! To imitate this performance especially in the shot by shot manner in which Pierce requires it is folly and painful and you wish Moore had simply said no.
The prom scene is a shadow of the original with less intense violence and without the iconic, classic kills of the original (or simply poor copies of said kills). The car crash sequence that Nancy Allen and John Travolta made legendary is reduced to computer generated toilet paper. The end sequence is watered down and lit poorly with poor shot choices. The finale is obvious (both versions!) and cannot possibly capture the surprise of the original. To even attempt the original ending is a bad idea, but to do so with your own twist is an insult.
I was left feeling miserable and worn out and downright upset by this one. I had actually given it the good faith that it deserved and was robbed of my time. Now for the silver lining on this doomsday cloud, you have the opportunity to at least get an explanation from the director herself in the special features on the disc. You can hear her tell you why she thought she could do this to you in this way. After all she’s friends with DePalma! The disc contains the aforementioned alternate ending, deleted and alternate scenes, a creating Carrie featurette, a feature on telekinesis, commentary by the director (the coroners report if you will) and a Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise. It’s actually a great looking disc and there’s plenty of extra material if you do end up enjoying the movie.
Unfortunately for me, I did not enjoy the movie and cannot recommend it for fans of the original movie. I would recommend that horror fans should watch that movie and enjoy it and leave this to its digital grave, however, on the off chance that you only enjoy new horror and the production spin with which Hollywood lovingly spits on classics, then you may enjoy this. For those of you who have no desire to see the DePalma version… you may enjoy this just fine. Dinosaurs like me can’t get out of our own way to avoid extinction.