Remakes are tricky business. There is always a thin line, which makers have to tread between keeping fans of the original movie happy while trying to a competent job with the remake. This thin line has to be tread carefully by the director and his team when they are remaking a film. Besides this, the fans of the original films are always there to pounce upon the remakes, given the slightest opportunity. A lot of tricky situations you have out there. In recent past, there have been certain instances wherein the remakes of certain films have drawn a lot of ire from fans, critics and audiences alike. Director Kimberly Pierce and her team therefore have a gargantuan task at hand, while directing the remake of Carrie.
The original ‘Carrie’ directed by Brian De Palma not only ranks as one of DePalma’s best films. It also is widely regarded as one the finest horror films to be ever made, especially in Hollywood.
Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a nerdy teenager thanks to the influence of her mother (Julianne Moore) who tries to keep her completely under her clutches and shielded from the rest of the universe. This results in Carrie turning out to be a shy, reclusive teenager. Not surprisingly, she is often mocked at, bullied by her schoolmates.
When Carrie has her first period in the girls’ locker room in the school, stunned and shocked not knowing what to do she pleads to the other girls to help her out. However the girls led by Chris (Portia Doubleday) and Sue (Gabriella Wilde) make fun of her, record the incidents on their mobile phones and end up publicly humiliating her. Sue feels bad about this and as redemption asks her boyfriend Tommy Ross (Ansel Esgort) to attend the prom might with Carrie as that will make Carrie feel better. On the other hand, Chris is planning on exacting a nasty revenge from Carrie as she is suspended from attending school and prom night thanks to the locker room incident. In the meanwhile Carrie discovers her gift of telekinetic powers and uses it to get even with her perpetrators. What happens thereafter forms the crux of the story.
If you exclude the horror/supernatural aspect, Carrie is a classic underdog story. The tale of the nerdy, reclusive underdog mocked by all at school and who tries her best to fight back and fit within the school circle has been a subject of many a Hollywood films. The thought of the underdog getting back at her perpetrators is a subject which would resonate with most of the viewers. Especially those, who may have faced a similar situation in their lives.
Ragging and peer pressure has been a part of student’s lives since time immemorial. With the advent of mobile phones and social media, the humiliation and peer pressure has increased to a large extent. Thanks to mobile phones and social media, the perpetrators can go to quite a great extent to humiliate the victim, something which unfortunately we have heard and read about in the last few years quite often. Perhaps this is why Pierce thought of adding this aspect to the film as it makes the film more relevant and contemporary. It also helps people to understand the harrowing effects such things can have on the psyche of victims of ragging and other such nasty incidents.
The film creates a grim and a sinister scenario for a large part of the proceedings, thereby giving the viewer a hope for an exciting culmination of things. Some good camerawork and usage of lights also helps in this purpose. The scenes between Carrie and her mother also give a similarly grim feeling, highlighting the eerie and uneasy relationship which Carrie shares with her mother. The scenes between Carrie and her mother form a large chunk of some of the better scenes in the film. And so are the scenes in which Carrie initially discovers her telekinetic powers and plays around with it including with her mother as well.
Alas there are quite a few things that bring down the film and these largely overtake the proceedings. The acting and the characterization of most of the characters such as Chris, Sue, Tommy and the sympathetic teacher Ms. Dejardin (Judy Greer) seem straight out of a B Grade slasher flick. They appear as clichéd, caricatured and annoying. As a result, one hardly cares for most of the characters in the film, including the sympathetic Chris and Ms. Dejardin. As mentioned earlier, the film does create an eerie atmosphere to a large extent, but fails to capitalize on that. This is why one sorely misses getting a thrill out of watching the proceedings. The bloody climax for which a buildup is being created towards the latter part of proceedings also seems tired and chaotic.
If the film largely works, it is mainly due to the performances of Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore. Moretz in the titular role gets it largely right as the nerdy, impish teenager who is unsure yet excited of the natural gift she is bestowed with. Julianne Moore is excellent as the overbearing and mentally disturbed mother of Carrie. These two actors make the film watchable to a large extent. Carrie otherwise is a largely dull affair. I haven’t seen the original film directed by Brian De Palma even as I write this review. However, this remake seems quite unnecessary.