School was – pardon the expression – bloody, screaming hell in Stephen King’s 1974 novel, and Brian De Palma’s still-definitive 1977 film adaptation. The problem for Kimberley (Boys Don’t Cry) Peirce’s competent cover version is how to up the stakes?
We begin, boldly enough, with crazy Mrs White (Julianne Moore) about to plunge a pair of scissors into newborn baby Carrie, who’s possessed with telekinetic powers. But following this original opening gambit is a procession of familiar plot beats modernised and amped up to 11.
When the teenaged Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz) is tormented by her classmates during her first period, the ordeal is filmed and uploaded. When Mrs White hits Carrie with a Bible, it’s not a shocking slap but a WWE nose-breaker. And, as in the book, Carrie’s final vengeance engulfs most of the town, not just the school prom.
Although brutally efficient and well-acted, Peirce’s effort lacks character. Moretz is far too self-possessed to convince as an ugly duckling, and her powers are too developed for her to be considered an underdog. Not only can she mind-weld (!), she seems to be auditioning for Looper 2.
Moore is good, as always, and newcomer Gabriella Wilde shines as Sue Snell, the film’s conscience, but whereas De Palma’s classic combined high camp and horror to resemble a massacre on the set of Happy Days, this is more like a bad day in The O.C. It’s too knowing, too blasé – or maybe we are. Perhaps it’s as simple as this: you can’t mourn lost innocence twice.
‘Carrie’ Movie Times