Director: Kimberly Peirce
Starring: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde & Portia Doubleday
Released by: 20th Century Fox/MGM
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
As the wheels of the remake train continue to spin, 2013 saw the resurrection of one of Stephen King’s most beloved adaptations. Director Brian De Palma (Phantom of the Paradise, Dressed to Kill) brought King’s terrifying novel to life for the first time in 1976 with iconic performances from Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. Since then, the tale of Carrie White has been expanded into a 1999 sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2, as well as a television retelling in 2002 with Angela Bettis (Girl, Interrupted, May) starring as Carrie. Director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don‘t Cry, Stop-Loss) helms this modern update of a troubled outcast with extraordinary abilities and the limits she is pushed to. By the end, will you know her name? Let’s find out...
Carrie stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Dark Shadows) as Carrie White, a social outcast who is relentlessly taunted by classmates and abused by her overly religious mother (Julianne Moore). Carrie soon learns that her anger unleashes newly found telekinetic powers that she harbors. When she is unexpectedly asked to prom, an unforgivable fate awaits her that leads to a night no one will ever forget. Judy Greer (Jawbreaker), Gabriella Wilde (The Three Musketeers) and Portia Doubleday (Youth in Revolt) co-star.
In this day and age it’s easy to be dismissive of any new remakes/reimaginings hitting theaters. Devoted film lovers insist on being served exciting, original material opposed to a stale rehash of an already established classic. Sometimes, a reimagining comes along that attracts such unique talent that turns everyone’s head in intrigue. Director Kimberly Peirce, no stranger to shining lights on social outcasts, helms this modern take of the Stephen King best seller. Peirce approaches the material faithfully with mild updates to relate to a new generation. The opening, touched upon in the novel, finds Margaret White (Julianne Moore) riling in pain as she enters labor alone in her bedroom. Giving birth to a beautiful baby girl, the exhausted woman sees this as a test from God and prepares to kill the child for her sinful ways. Scissors in hand, Margaret is unable to go through with it and chooses to raise her daughter. The film moves forward in time as we find Carrie White (Moretz), now 15 years-old, shy, awkward and idolizing her fellow female classmates. Carrie quickly follows suit by retelling an iconic locker room sequence where Carrie frighteningly experiences her first period as classmates taunt and throw tampons at her. Injecting the modern twist, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) records the embarrassing incident with her cellphone and uploads it to YouTube for fellow classmates and the world to see. The film continues to remain close to De Palma’s version with the occasional change-up for good measure. Peirce harkens back to the novel to showcase Margaret White’s bodily harm that makes for some truly squeemish moments to great effect.
Peirce assembles a fine cast with the talented Chloë Grace Moretz slipping into Spacek’s iconic role. Moretz handles the role well and captures the odd and uncomfortable personality of Carrie. One couldn’t help but feel that Moretz was just a little too pretty to honestly portray the odd girl out. Moretz’s acting abilities are far from disappointing, but her appearances hurt the believability of the character. Julianne Moore delivers a disturbing performance as Carrie’s abusive mother, Margaret White. Moore’s unbrushed greying hair and dressed down appearance complimented her character’s loony behavior. While, Piper Laurie’s original performance still reigns supreme, Moore delivered a unique spin of her. In addition, Judy Greer (Jeff Who Lives at Home), co-stars as gym teacher, Ms. Desjardin. While, a brief role, Greer offers an endearing performance as a shoulder to cry on for Carrie. Portia Doubleday (Her) stuns as the bitchy Chris Hargensen who makes abusing Carrie her main priority. Doubleday makes hating her easy with her relentless bullying and stuck-up personality. Fans of Nancy Allen’s original performance will be made proud. Finally, Gabriella Wilde does a fine job as Sue Snell, the one teenager with a conscience who enlists her boyfriend to give Carrie the time of her life at prom.
Carrie does offer its fair share of CG visual effects, but all to effective results. The bloody finale at the prom sees Carrie unleashing her wrath after having pig blood dropped on her. Students are thrown back in a tidal wave of tables and chairs while Carrie uses her powers to create an inferno of flames. The entire movie is building to this sequence and it hardly disappoints. As Chris and her boyfriend speed off after the prank, Carrie confronts them before sending the couple to a brutal death. Chris‘ fate is sheer eye candy and a fitting end for such a hated character. Carrie heads home to only be greeted by her insane mother who intends on putting an end to her devil child. A fight to the death ensues between the mother and daughter before a tragic end befalls on them. The film concludes on a similar note as the original with a much less effective jump-scare administered.
Like most reimaginings, Carrie doesn’t quite live up to its predecessor but it still has merit. Peirce does a fine job harking back to the source material while injecting modern twists of cyberbullying to up the ante. The core cast was more than capable in their respective roles with Moore and Doubleday offering noteworthy mentions. Moretz captured the essence of Carrie but her physicality prevented the performance from being all it could be. One can only wonder how the film would have appeared if Peirce casted Carrie as heavier set as described in the novel. Moments of violence and chaos are demonstrated well and benefit from today’s movie magic. Viewing Carrie during its theatrical run, I left the film feeling mediocre towards it. After revisiting Carrie, it has managed to slightly entertain me more. With more King reimaginings in the works, time will tell how this retelling of Carrie is best remembered. Until then, Carrie is a serviceable adaptation of one of King’s finest efforts with a solid cast and a modernization that benefits the film nicely.
Carrie is presented in a beautiful 1080p (2.35:1) transfer that stuns. Colors appear clear and accurate with detail looking most impressive in close-ups. The school’s football field, swimming pool and of course, the pig blood look especially lush and bold. Black levels are superior, most noticeably, during the pig clubbing sequence and the finale at the prom. As a brand-new film shot and presented in HD, there’s nothing to fear with this transfer.
Carrie comes equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. Dialogue is clear as a whistle with subtleties such as books slamming or creaky footsteps making a nice impression. More intense sequences involving inferno, car crashes and screaming students are loud and solid. The prom sequence will definitely send your speakers for a ride and make for an exceptional listening experience.
- Audio Commentary with Director Kimberly Peirce: Peirce serves up an informative listen touching upon the casting process, development of the script, modernizing the film as well as budget and time constraints. While, Peirce may often focus too much on what’s playing on the screen, the track is still a worthy listen.
- Alternate Ending: Included as a second option labeled “Theatrical Cut with Alternate Ending”, the new ending offers an extra minute of runtime with optional commentary from Director Kimberly Peirce.
- Deleted/Alternate Scenes: 10 minutes worth of scenes again with optional commentary from Director Kimberly Peirce.
- Tina on Fire: Stunt Double Dailies: A featurette showcasing how the fire effects were achieved with optional commentary from Director Kimberly Peirce.
- Creating Carrie: A making of featurette running over 20 minutes. Director Kimberly Peirce, Producer Kevin Misher and the core cast discuss the film, their preparation and Stephen King’s original novel. A terrific companion to the film!
- The Power of Telekinesis: Talent in front and behind the camera discuss their takes on telekinesis.
- Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise: A hilarious telekinetic prank that was pulled in a New York coffee shop on unsuspecting customers to promote the film.
- Theatrical Trailer
- Sneak Peak: Trailers for upcoming MGM titles.
- DVD Copy
- Ultraviolet Copy Code
2013’s reimagining of Carrie didn’t light me entirely on fire, but it was still a serviceable take on an iconic tale. Director Kimberly Peirce may have been an unexpected choice but her expertise with social outcasts gave this film its flavor. Peirce did a fine job sticking to King’s source material while injecting the necessary tools to make it a functioning modern take. Chloë Grace Moretz brought her usual A-game acting chops to the role but her lovely appearance made the believability of the character a constant struggle. Julianne Moore and Portia Doubleday deserve recognition for their portrayals as dangerously flawed characters. The film manages to not disappoint in the effects and violence department that pay off in the exciting finale. The Blu-ray edition of Carrie is quite simply perfection. A wonderful video presentation matched with an effective and robust audio mix plus a plethora of special features make this release a winner. In addition, the film comes accompanied with one of the coolest looking lenticular slipcovers in sometime. Regardless, of your film adaptation preference, 2013’s Carrie has its issues but it has all the potential to become even better with time.