Remake of classic hoor proves not so ‘scarrie’

Shea Anthony, co-a&e editor

What do you get when you mix a religiously zealous mother, a teenager girl with telekinesis and a high school prom? The plot line of Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Carrie, a 1976 classic.

Carrie centers itself around teenage girl Carrie White and the discovery of her power of telekinesis, or the ability to move objects with her mind. Her new-found abilities help her control her borderline insane mother who thinks that everything is a sin and deal with the bullies at her high school who tease her for her looks and shyness.

Though Carrie’s powers are good natured for the majority of the movie, things take a turn for the worse when she attends her high school prom and is pushed over the edge by one of her tormentors who has had it out for her since the beginning of the movie.

The opening scene of Kimberly Peirce’s adaptation of Carrie was promising. The story starts off with Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mom giving birth alone on a bed. It was a notable beginning because it demonstrated a clear deviation from the original film and also set up Moore’s character splendidly. From that scene alone you are able to gather that Carrie’s mom is a complex character comprised of a little bit of crazy and a lot of religious devotion that she takes to the extreme.

The rest of the movie, however, proved to be a disappointment. Though Carrie had its moments, it seemed more like a coming-of-age story than a horror film until the last 25 minutes when things started to get scary. It failed to add its own spin on things aside from the opening scene and the cultural references made every now and then, and most of the character development was shallow and confusing.

Carrie, played by Chloë Grace Moretz, seemed like a pretty normal girl who simply had a messed up home life. She is bullied relentlessly by the girls at her school and the only apparent reason for this bullying is her quiet demeanor and her lack of “cool” clothes.

Moretz was not a good fit for the lead because she failed to give off the gawky, sheltered vibe that the 1976 Carrie played off so well. If not for her distinct actions such as staring at the ground or constantly keeping her arms crossed, Moretz could’ve easily been just another girl at school. Her attempts at making herself seem awkward seemed forced because she simply did not lack the looks or grace to make them convincing.

I applaud Peirce’s references of modern-day problems but disliked that she failed to pursue them. In one scene, Carrie gets her period in the locker room and doesn’t know what it is because her mom, being the religious extremist that she is, neglected to tell Carrie what happens to her during puberty. The other girls in her gym class start throwing sanitary devices at her and chant mean things, and Chris, one of the main female antagonists, takes a video of it and puts it on YouTube.

This contemporary reference to cyberbullying is effective but is only mentioned once more after the original locker room scene. There was a lot of potential to make this an integral part of the plot line by using it to exploit the insecurities behind Chris, the main bully in the movie. Though it is used to demonstrate her targeted hate for Carrie, it does little more for Chris’ character development which is a let down because it could have both helped us understand Chris and add a current twist that the movie so desperately needs.

Moore’s acting as Carrie’s mom is one of the highlights of the film. Her ability to convey her mental illness through her excessive fanaticism and occasional self-harming is brilliant and persuasive. Her character development is very clear and helps viewers understand not just Moore’s character but Carrie as well. It is assumed through dialogue that Carrie is disliked at school because of her religious impositions passed down from her mom. When Carrie develops telekinesis, it’s her mom’s stifling nature that pushes her to use it in the ways that she does.

The ending was another high point in the movie. Though slightly predictable, the way that Carrie loses control is intensely destructive yet fitting with the build-up from the rest of the movie. The special effects used to portray her telekinesis are high-quality and add to the gory horror that the ending provides.

Overall, the movie was subpar. I would’ve liked the characters to be more unpredictable with their mania because that’s what makes viewers truly scared when it comes to horror films. There were a lot of loose ends in the supporting characters’ development that I would’ve liked to see tied up. The movie ended up being more twisted than terrifying which is not what I was expecting. If you’re looking for something to make you scream and jump in your seat, I’d stick with the classics and try to avoid this mediocre remake of a well-made original.