DVD Review – Carrie (2013)

Carrie poster

Out on DVD and Blu-ray today, this is a whole new definition of a Carrie out, and a reminder of Jozef’s review of the film…

Been There. Done Better. They’re All Going To Laugh At You.

Oh boy, we’ve been through it all now guys haven’t we? We’ve seen the classic Universal monsters of ye olde cinema days get the contemporary reboot treatment to exploitation flicks of the early 70’s and even beloved slashers from less than thirty years ago get pumped full of that self-appointed grade A Hollywood ‘improvement’. Now we’ve moved onto King and his very well endowed library of adaptations which spans numerous decades and countless influences.
I’m going to lay all my cards on the table right here, it’s hard not to compare this to the 1976 Brian DePalma film, considering that despite including a few things that were absent in that version, borrows so heavily from it at the same time to the point where this literally becomes a remake and not a re-adaptation. Even the advertising campaign made this film out to be a remake and not a re-adaptation in the bare bones.

Carrie is by far my favourite Stephen King story because it is instantly relatable to so many people. Not all of us have encountered sewer dwelling clowns or ankle breaking sociopaths, but all of us at one time or another are bound to have felt like an outcast or been the ridicule of another person. It’s a story that is still very relevant to this day; even more-so that there is constant news coverage with bullying instances around the world.

Anyway, onto the film! We alllllllllllllllllll know the plot of Carrie, what horror fan doesn’t? Hell, what person actually breathing doesn’t? Well, there’s some so I’ll just give a quick summary of what happens in the film. Spoilers ahoy!

‘Carrie’ (2013) opens with Margaret White, your friendly neighbourhood religious fanatic giving birth in her home, alone. Asking for mercy from the lord to remove the ‘cancer’ from her body, she eventually gives birth to a healthy baby girl. To which she stabs in the head with a pair of scissors. The End…  I jest, of course. No, in an ambiguous moment, the scissors stop inches from the newborn infants head, whether this is a moment of weakness on Margaret’s part or some sort of natural telekinetic block on Carrie’s behalf. If it’s the latter, it’s incredibly stupid for a child who is literally seconds old.

Fast forward about fifteen years later and Carrie is an introverted, socially awkward, teenage girl.  Kind of reminds me of me, without the bad split ends. During a shower after her physical education class, Carrie begins to have her period which sends her into panicked frenzy, having no idea about female biology or what is happening to her. The other girls in the locker room begin to taunt her including the only two girls we know the names of, Chris Hargensenand Sue Snell. They begin to throw tampons and sanitary towels at Carrie, shouting at her such condescending insults as ‘Plug it up!’ and ‘Freak!’ while filming the whole ordeal on an iPhone before being interrupted by their teacher, Ms. Desjardin. This trauma awakens or reawakens, however you want to interpret that opening scissor situation a telekinetic power within Carrie as tampons begin to move on their own in the chaos as a light blows out above their heads.

Carrie on the floor
The film’s little known alternative title: ‘When tampons attack..’
The video is posted online and the abuse that Carrie already received at the hands of her peers is even more intense, she’s an outcast because of her religious zealot mother and regularly receives physical and mental abuse from her, even being locked inside a very small closet with horrific religious artwork and being told to pray for her sins. As the film develops, Carrie begins to develop her powers as Sue Snell begins to feel sympathy towards her, asking her boyfriend Tommy Ross, the most popular boy in school to take her to the prom instead of Sue. Chris begins to contemplate a revenge plan to humiliate Carrie in front of everyone upon hearing this, as her teasing of Carrie got herself banned from attending the prom, with the help of her boyfriend Billy, she intends to dump a heavy bucket of pigs blood on Carrie when she is crowned queen, thanks to fixing the ballad with her friends. During this time, Carrie has begun to stand up to her mother, even locking her in the prayer closet when she attempts to sabotage Tommy’s plans to take Carrie to the prom.

The prom night finally comes and Carrie arrives a blushing beauty, but still shy. She begins to come out of her shell as the night goes on and Tommy begins to see something special within her. They are both announced king and queen of the prom, but Sue has been notified of Chris’ plan and attempts to stop it. She is ejected from the prom by an unaware Ms. Desjardin and the blood is poured on Carrie. Stunned, she begins to walk off stage as the bucket falls and hits Tommy on the head, killing him instantly. Chris, Billy and Sue are outside of the prom as the video of Carrie being tormented in the showers is played to everyone, causing laughter around the room. Carrie begins to unleash her powers in a heightened amount of rage and grief, killing numerous classmates and setting fire to the whole school. Unlike the original film however and more true to the novel, a lot of people escape from the fire, including Ms. Desjardin. Carrie begins to unleash her rage on the town after seeing Chris and Billy driving away. She prevents them from escaping and kills both of them using her telekinetic abilities before returning home.

The true finale of the film sees Carrie and her mother come to a clash within the White family home. Margaret attempts to kill Carrie and while reluctant at first, Carrie eventually uses her powers in order to make every damn thing in the house with a pointed edge, crucify her mother to the prayer closet.  But what’s different this time is that the house is grounded by huge rocks pummelling the structures, a very nice nod to the novel where the same happened. Except they missed the part where Carrie pelted the house with stones when she was younger, which is exactly the point in which the house is destroyed in such a manner. It’s a completely pointless reference. The DePalma film had a few stones visible in the shot, but for the most part, the house was torn apart by structure and fire, here it is very clearly giant rocks tearing the thing to the ground.

Let’s not even talk about the final shot which is just utter stupidity upon stupidity. Yes they attempt to do THAT to an extent, but fail miserably. The alternate ending is even worse. I don’t think we’ll be seeing The Rage: Carrie 2 (2016) any time soon as much as they would like us to believe that a sequel is actually possible with this story. That’s Carrie in a nutshell boys and ghouls.

Now onto the actors themselves, I’m only going to cover Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore because they’re obviously the big attractions here.

I have a big problem with Moretz playing Carrie. Although she is a fantastic actress who blew me away in ‘Let The Right One In’, she is WAY too pretty to be playing Carrie White. The picture below pretty much says it all:

EW magazine cover
What the hell is that all about? Carrie was written as a social outcast and not conventionally attractive by her peers. I’m not saying Sissy Spacek was ugly by any means at all, but she had a certain odd look to her, a very gaunt look and Spacek’s interpretation had the outcast aura around perfectly whereas Moretz has already become an attractive woman and once she hits the prom, she is literally THE most attractive person at the place. She also exudes a star quality that constantly draws your attention to her, she’s not an outcast because she slumps her shoulders and has an awkward facial expression with ugly clothes. It’s ridiculous how she would be bullied because in reality, despite having a crazy mother, guys would still want to get in her pants. Moretz is pretty good as Carrie though, I can’t say I was blown away simply because of how the character was portrayed. There was a lot of potential here, but a simple case of miscasting really brought the whole thing crashing down in my opinion.

One huge thing I disliked about the film is Carrie herself during the prom scene. She is intentionally killing people and taking revenge while enjoying it. When in the original film, she has lost control and her mind has just completely snapped (with that gorgeous, iconic Spacek stare). Carrie becomes the villain/anti-hero when she’s really the victim. She enjoys having her powers whereas Spacek’s Carrie was scared of them and could only use them during heightened stress, they were still new to her and they were not developed. In the remake, Carrie is more like a member of the X-Men than anything else, just a bit more deranged. I mean hell, there’s a hilariously awful moment where she HULK SMASHES the concrete and causes the road to crack and cave into itself, Michael Bay style.

Carrie and her mother
And the mother of the year award goes to…
The true power force of the film comes in the form of Julianne Moore who is amazing as Margaret White, however it is a very different take on the character and I have to say that I much preferred the Margaret White portrayed in the 1976 DePalma film, she seemed a lot more consistent in her deranged fanatical mind set. Moore delivers a cold and chilling mother figure when she wants to, however the moments where she offers small forms of love and affection to Carrie feel very odd and out of place, when the abuse in the 1976 film was constant until the finale. They’ve also added a self-harm element into Margaret’s character which just seems to be quite over the top. In fact, that’s how I would describe this film. Over the top. Even the items that Carrie breaks or throws when developing her powers are substantially bigger, an ashtray falling off a table will now be a bursting water cooler for example.
There’s a reason why Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek were both nominated for an Oscar with ‘Carrie’ (1976), they were utterly fantastic in their roles and fit within the skin of both characters perfectly. Here it seems like they’re trying to distance themselves from them as much as possible and in an odd reversal effect, managed to come across as trying to emulate them for the most part. It’s really odd, but you can see that this is a cut to the bone remake, even down to the acting and ‘homaged’ prom makeover scene (with less campy fast forward action, sadly).

The effects are probably the worst thing about the film, where the DePalma film had to be clever in how they were to utilise the effects due to the budget constraints, the 2013 film over layers everything with CGI, typical, right? There’s also a really stupid amount of slow motion moments that are used in some death scenes which look like they belong in a Mortal Kombat game. I was cautious of the effects in some of the trailers and it was claimed that they had updated them since that initial distress from fans, which is obviously a lie because they’re still awful and look very wooden.

I am seriously fucking sick of these remakes coming out which state, ‘we love the original and we are going to do it so much justice’. That’s been the same story for the past decade and it’s clear that it’s just a quick cash in. Although ‘Carrie’ isn’t the worst of the bunch, it hangs up there with the remake of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ for utter boredom and lack of soul. This film succeeds when it tries to separate itself from the umbilical cord of what came before it, but it soon falls back into that abyss of trying too hard to make up for originality with ‘improved’ effects which could’ve used a few extra hours on the rendering programme.

The true shining moment that sets this film apart from the original is that it portrays bullying in a very true, contemporary and horrific manner, that’s where the horror in this film lies. The social media addition towards the bullying really comes through strongly and by far the best addition onto the legacy of this tale. That and the characters are now more conventionally attractive, sorry guys, the big seventies ‘fros aren’t doing it for me. However, that is not nearly enough to save the film. Carrie demonstrates her powers throughout the course of the film, leaving us with absolutely no build up to the infamous prom scene and the extent of her powers. It’s less Carrie and more Matilda. Once the carnage has began, Carrie’s character does a complete one eighty and becomes a murdering psychopath. From what I took from the DePalma film (remember, this is not a book comparison unless relevant), Carrie lost control over her powers, causing the death and destruction around her, not target individuals and try to off them in the most Final Destination-esque ways possible. Yes, you read that right she fucking FLIES out of the gymnasium as the dozens and dozens of people who have survived the massacre just sort of…ignore her outside. They don’t even react in fear or anger; it’s as if she doesn’t exist in that scene to them.

We may know Carrie’s name, but it sure as hell isn’t due to this mess of a readaptation/reimagining/remake whatever the fuck you want to label it as.  If you haven’t seen the original or read the novel, sure, go ahead and give this a watch. It’s more ‘faithful’ to the novel, but it lacks the amazing cinematography and is just generally a better film. I feel that this film tried to play it safe and become basically an iPhone generation of the original. That’s a good way to do a safe remake if you actually manage to pull it off well; here it falls flat on its face. Except for the odd moment here and there.

‘Carrie’ (2013) has some good ideas and executes them well in places, but sadly it’s a case of been there, done that. We didn’t need a remake or whatever the hell you want to call it, I don’t care, kids, if you don’t want to watch a film because of its age, you don’t deserve to critique film in any way, shape or form. The classics never go out of style and nine times out of ten, they are still the big mama wolf in the franchise pack. This is a pointless film and even Stephen King thinks so, with a symbiotic thought between himself and horror fans around the world: “…why, when the original was so good?”

‘You will remember her name.’ is the tagline of ‘Carrie’ (2013). However, ironically, no one will remember this film in a few years.

The verdict: Four buckets of pigs’ blood out of ten. (4/10)
Jozef is the resident scream queen of HaddonfieldHorror, a troubled writer by day and an insomniac by night, there simply isn’t time to deal with the friendly neighbourhood psychopath between regular spells of insanity. Twitter: @TheEvilBread


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