Carrie DVD Review

Carrie hits the big screen again, in all her bloody glory, but while the freeze frame multi camera angle shots of the blood splatter may be visually stunning, it’s the lacks of scares that will be most memorable. It’s bloodier, the bully is meaner, and yet it still lacks a punch, but it’s not all bad.

Brian DePalma’s 1976 version of Carrie was a scrawny, big eyed misfit (Sissy Spacek), picked on and abused by her fellow classmates for that awkwardness. She was a far cry from the current Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz) who barely needed a She’s All That makeover to go from plain Jane to Head Cheerleader in the looks department. Instead 2013’s Carrie’s gawkiness is more a product of her environment, rather than her appearance. Her home life leaves much to be desired, with a mother seeing nothing but evil in her, she’s dealing with some telekinetic powers that have been blossoming at the onset of puberty, and there’s also the mean girls at school who are making her life hell. But no matter nature vs nuture, Carrie is an abused child, who feels ugly and radiates unimportance. She also seems to be the poor kid in a rich school making her a further outcast.

At birth Carrie is nearly murdered by her mother Margaret (Julianne Moore) because of the wickedness she sees in her with the same scissors she used to cut the umbilical cord. Moore’s portrayal of Margaret may be more haunting because she’s less a overbearing religious nut like the 1976 version, and more on the brink of becoming unhinged. She’s a mentally ill single mom, working two jobs who does not love herself, and cannot possibly love her child. In a way she is very childlike herself, but as far as Carrie knows, this is all normal, all she’s ever knows.

The School’s gym teacher Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer) takes the role of the only stable adult  in Carrie’s corner. When mean girl Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) uploads an embarrassing video of Carrie reacting to her first menses while the other girls throw tampons on her, its Miss Desjardin who makes sure that the culprit is caught and punished.

Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) though also involved in the tampon toss feels remorse, and has her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), ask Carrie to the Prom to make amends. Meanwhile Carrie is going full research mode about her Telekinesis. She realizes that she may have powers after shattering some lights during the Tampon fiasco, and after she cracked the wall outside the prayer closet. And the story continues to be much of the same from there with few divergences from the Book.

Carrie goes to Prom against her mother's wishes and finds that she likes it and Tommy a lot, Chris takes out her aggression on Carrie and douses her in pigs blood, this time after humiliating her by replaying her video on screen and Carrie wrecks shop on the school killing many of her fellow students, but saving Miss Desjardin, before going after Chris and killing her too.

Chris has always been mean, but her malice is far deeper here. You want to feel sorry for the neglected spoiled girl, who is been bred to believe that being pretty and privileged with a powerful lawyer daddy makes her untouchable  but she proves that pity is wasted as her revenge psychosis ups the ante. Not only does she slaughter the pig herself, she's screams for Carrie's death. Chris is so “evil” that she’s an utter caricature, and utterly shatters the realism of the rest of the movie, which leaves the more realistic characters in an awkward position.

In this version of Carrie, everything is pushed just a little bit further, like it was trying to erase the memory of the previous version, but just not far enough to make a real impression. It takes what would have been a good starting foundation, and pulls its punches in the end when everything is coming to a rapid head that the climax is almost a let down. 

Still, there's a lot to like in this remake. The characters pain and suffering both inflicted and dealt out are more deeply explored, And when Carrie does unleash the full force of her powers there’s a sort of beauty in it. Gone is that gawky exterior, and in the elegance of a dancer, using hand gestures learned from the books she’s using to find out about her powers. And the wide overhead panning camera angles give it a kid of comic book stylization, as does Carrie's additional powers, like the high pitched noise she hears when her mother nears. Carrie rises like the phoenix, reborn in blood and fire, only to perish tragically. One of the best deviations from the source material may be the alternate ending, which was far more satisfying than the theatrical one.

Carrie is now available on DVD. 


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