‘Carrie’ Review

Published 9 months ago by , Updated October 21st, 2013 at 12:43 pm,

Chloe Grace Moretz Carrie Remake Carrie Review

The 2013 Carrie remake once again follows the titular Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) a shy and awkward teenage girl who is routinely bullied and ostracized by classmates. Sheltered by her overbearing, and extremely religious, mother Margaret (Julianne Moore), Carrie longs for the “normal life” of the other kids at Thomas Ewen Consolidated High School.

But Carrie isn’t normal, and after discovering that she possesses telekinetic powers, she begins to develop a new-found confidence that causes tension between her and a popular clique of girls led by Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) and Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde). Rebelling against her mother’s control, and extreme Christian beliefs, Carrie decides to attend the school prom with cool kid Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), setting the stage for a memorable night of dancing and violent revenge.

Chloe Grace Moretz Carrie White Remake Carrie Review

Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie White

Given the success of Brian De Palma’s adaptation, starring Sissy Spacek (and featuring a pre-Saturday Night Fever John Travolta), a lot of moviegoers have been skeptical about Carrie (2013) – especially considering the latest iteration follows closer to that 1976 original instead of the actual novel source material. As a result, it’s fair to say that Carrie is a true remake, not an extensive reimagining that seeks to be more faithful to Stephen King’s version of fictional events. Still, director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) manages to present a worthwhile, albeit arguably unneeded, retelling of the Carrie White story – strengthened by modern visual effects and a great performance from Chloë Grace Moretz in the titular role. The latest Carrie film isn’t going to win the same accolades as the first one (which led to Oscar nominations for both Spacek and Piper Laurie) but it’s an entertaining and oftentimes competent update for anyone who isn’t already, on principle, off put by remakes – particularly ones that hew so close to the celebrated original.

Peirce’s iteration once again skips some of the more complicated (and convenient) elements of the novel material, most notably in the third act, in favor of telling a straightforward narrative about a girl that is constantly oppressed and ridiculed – until she discovers the (malevolent) power to fight back. Beyond updating the setting for contemporary moviegoers with YouTube and video phones, Peirce along with screenwriters Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa as well as Lawrence D. Cohen attempt to inject fresh subtext into the mix. Some of the additions succeed but, at the same time, leave less of the runtime for elements that were instrumental in De Palma’s movie. Therefore, the Carrie (2013) story presents the same effective and heart-breaking character arc, with some new angles for returning viewers to ponder, but without major deviations to raise the remake into the number one spot.

Chloe Grace Moretz Julianne Moore Carrie Remake Carrie Review

Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore in ‘Carrie’

Moretz is a solid Carrie, balancing reverence to the role while also injecting subtleties that make her version of the horror movie icon distinct (and slightly more intimidating). Moretz effortlessly sells all three sides of the Carrie character – transition in and out of a terrified victim, cautiously empowered young woman, and iconic (not to mention blood-soaked) killer. Certain viewers will prefer one version over another, but Moretz delivers in several key moments – successfully capturing the genuine hopefulness and raw terror that make the fundamental Carrie story so powerful. Of course, the actress is aided in this undertaking by contemporary special effects and, even though some of the visuals come across as “budgeted” in certain shots (with a few slightly awkward disconnects between practical and CGI images) the character, as well as Moretz, comes across as even more menacing than before.

Peirce also digs a bit deeper into the relationship between Carrie and her mother Margaret, played by Moore, which is both a strength and sometimes a setback for the film. Unsurprisingly, Moore embraces the character wholeheartedly with a capable and disturbing performance that pairs well with Moretz (and the larger character story). Still, despite positioning Margaret as a delusional relic from a by-gone era, Peirce’s take on the christian fundamentalist character often slides dangerously close to caricature territory.

Alex Russell Portia Doubleday Carrie Remake Carrie Review

Alex Russell and Portia Doubleday in ‘Carrie’

Much like in De Palma’s film, and the source book, the majority of supporting characters are relegated to one-note plot points that merely serve as touchstones for Carrie’s development – and fall into very familiar high school cliches. Gabriella Wilde and Portia Doubleday are both adequate at the extremes, as the remorseful Sue Snell and conniving Chris Hargensen, respectively. Judy Greer is a smart fit for Carrie’s confidant and gym teacher Miss Desjardin – a character that gets a more prominent role this round and is smartly juxtaposed with the clueless Principle Morton (portrayed by Barry Shabaka Henley).

Finally, despite a likable turn from Ansel Elgort, the script somewhat muddles the Tommy Ross character – as, in an effort to make the character estimable while also playing off his interest in Carrie at the dance, the writers subsequently convolute his arc. Given that most of the characters rely heavily on thin teenage tropes, side stories are mostly included for the purpose of advancing the narrative but a few, like Tommy, get saddled with too many layers and become a distraction rather than inspired reimagining.

Ansel Elgort Gabriella Wilde Carrie Remake Carrie Review

Ansel Elgort and Gabriella Wilde in ‘Carrie’

Filmgoers who are not interested in seeing a modern remake of Carrie are equally unlikely to be won-over by Peirce’s effort – since it tells (mostly) the same story without dramatically improving anything but the onscreen visuals. Nevertheless, for viewers who are open to the remake, the assembled cast and crew manage to accomplish their goal of updating the still timely Carrie storyline with a more intense (and gory) retelling of events for the contemporary movie market. While it might not have been necessary, the Carrie remake is still an adept, entertaining, and at times downright haunting, piece of filmmaking.

If you’re still on the fence about Carrie, check out the trailer below:

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Carrie runs 99 minutes and is Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content. Now playing in theaters.

Let us know what you thought of the film in the comment section below. If you’ve seen the movie and want to discuss details about the film without worrying about spoiling it for those who haven’t seen it, please head over to our Carrie Spoilers Discussion.

For an in-depth discussion of the film by the Screen Rant editors check out our Carrie episode of the SR Underground podcast.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future reviews, as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

Our Rating:

3 out of 5
(Good)

TAGS: carrie

45 Comments

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  1. Still checking this out later today, but it is kinda lame that we get another Carrie re-make before IT.

  2. These reviews are becoming predictable. I knew it would get 3 stars.

    • Sorry about that, next time we’ll be sure to arbitrarily assign a score that doesn’t match all of the points made in the review – just to keep you guessing ;)

      In all seriousness, it only makes sense that as anyone reads more and more SR reviews, they’d get a better idea of what we’ll like or dislike. I had no expectations going into ‘Carrie’ – so you did a better job of predicting my reaction than I did at the time. But I think 3/5 aka “good” is an accurate way of quantifying this one on our rating scale.

    • Its kind of a 3.41646 out of 5

    • I have been reading Ben Kendrick reviews for years now
      and the last word I would use to describe them is predicable.
      Other than saying they were predictably excellent and well-written.

  3. I wonder what Stephen King thinks about this.

    • “Here comes my royalty check” probably.

  4. I am in the camp of is this really necessary and what’s the point hence disinclined.
    You would have to have given this 4 stars, Ben, for me to change my leanings.
    Excellent and fair review, the film is a bit of a curiosity and I might slot
    this in one late night down the road just for comparison reasons.

  5. My thoughts about the usefulness of this movie has gone from NOOO to well maybe to well I guess I’ll check it out.
    I love DePalma’s film (even though I normally hate most of his work) mostly because it’s one of the first horror films I had ever seen but after rewatching it I can’t deny that it is quite dated. So I’ll give it a shot but after reading this and a few other reviews it seems like it’s mostly just a remake for the sake of a remake which is kind of a bummer.

  6. You know, a lot are commenting on it getting average reviews across the board. But when I first saw the trailer I was expecting it to be utterly awful quite frankly.

    So, the fact it is getting 3/6 out of 5/10 is both pleasantly surprising and almost, almost enough to warrant consideration of cinema ticket. Hell, it is all just passing time until we get ‘Gravity’ over here anyways…

    • Wait, you’re not gonna see Thor on October 30th then?

      That’s what I’m gonna see before Gravity releases. Nothing else out there until November 8th to tempt me into the cinema.

  7. I am tired of movies about bullying where the main character dies.
    Why doesn’t she at least live at the end? It’s such a depressing idea.
    I watched the first Carrie when I was little. I will not watch this one, just like I didn’t watch the second Carrie movie from 10 years ago.
    Did we need a 3rd? Or a 2nd Carrie?
    As for that, do we need yet another movie about teenage bullying? Hollywood? Please?
    If so, can we at least get one that isn’t such a downer?
    Carrie is about a girl getting revenge on the bullies with telekinesis. And she dies.Downer!
    Chronicle is about a kid getting revenge on the bullies with telekinesis. And he dies. Downer!
    Powder is about an albino boy who gets revenge on the bullies with electrical shocks from his fingertips. And he dies. By lightning. Major downer!
    Karate Kid is about Ralph Macchio who gets revenge on the bullies with karate. He doesn’t die. Overall it’s still a downer.
    Back to the Future is about Michael J Fox getting revenge on his father’s bullies with time travel. He doesn’t die. Not a downer!
    My Bodyguard is about a boy who gets revenge on Matt Dillon with Adam Baldwin. He doesn’t die. Overall still a downer.
    The Dirties is about a boy who gets revenge on the bullies with a bag full of guns. And he doesn’t die. Big downer!
    Let The Right One In is about a boy who gets revenge with his vampire girlfriend. He doesn’t die. He probably becomes a vampire later. Huge depressing downer!

    • Did you even see My Bodyguard, or did you just google something and got the title? You CANNOT call that movie a downer. It was never about revenge, it was about standing up for yourself, and the fact that he did, was pretty movie, i thought, at the time when i was in 7th grade when it was new, and still find it the EXACT opposite of a “downer”. you fail at comments.

      …and the same goes for Powder, he was doing cpr, not trying to fry someone. smh…

      • …* was pretty moving…not movie…smh…

        • I wish they’d remake My Bodyguard. Well, wait no. Better to leave it alone.,..

      • I saw iMy Bodyguard when it came out at the theater. Loved it.
        I would say It wasn’t a downer like Carrie. But just because the good guys win in a movie about bullying doesn’t mean it wasn’t a downer. Empire strikes back was a downer. Great movie, thiough. I left that movie feeling more angry than uplifted by the ending.
        Powder was a huge downer, way, way over the top with the nastiness in the same vein as Carrie. I hugely depressing. After he became one with the lightning, or dissolved into spiritual goodness,, or whatever the hell happens to albinos who can make you feel bad with a touch, I didn’t walk out thinking ” Wow! What a great movie.” I was focused on hating the bad guys, that bad guys like that would treat someone like powder boy like that. Downer. Big time.
        Bully movies have been done already. We don’t need any more. We certainly don’t need remakes of them. Especially when, if you like a movie like Carrie, it was done right the first time.

        • Actually, considering how much bullying goes on nowadays, against many different people and in way too many different forms, I say we need MORE films that highlight this MAJOR issue. Though I appreciated the original film (and its source novel) and even, to an extent, it’s less successful sequel, I found this remake to be an excellent updating of the original, and I loved both Moretz and Moore in their respective roles. I’d easily give this film a 3.5 or even 3.75/5.

    • Huh? Karate kid a downer, i have to disagree there and you were doing so well
      Karate kid – he takes on his bullies publicly and beats them but also earns there respect (or at least changes their opinion of him) as a result, learns good life lessons along the way as well but certainly not a downer of a film

    • mmm, the main character in Powder most definitely does not “die by lightning”. nothing in the film says that he dies. that big “magical” explosion is not the way someone normally dies when struck by lightning, the implication being that Powder somehow “transcends” to some other plane of existence.

  8. What rating would Ben have given this movie if Elizabeth Olsen had been cast instead of Chloe Moretz? A FIVE OUT OF FIVE, that’s what! Boom!

    Come on, people, if you read this site and/or listen to the podcast regularly, of course you are going to start picking up on the tendencies of the reviewers. To me, that isn’t a bad thing. I know how my opinions and tendencies stack up with Ben/Rob/Kofi/Ant, and that allows me to make smarter decisions when it comes to which movies to see in the theaters vs waiting for the Blu-Ray or streaming option. In the absence of friends who love movies, listening to a consistent group of movie lovers have a one-sided conversation is definitely preferable to discussing movies with co-workers or friends who have little knowledge and ask ridiculous questions.

  9. I guess SR doesn’t like it when the people expose the truth(they are deleting comments) on this film and expose it for what it really is and that is a below average film that is not worth time and money.

    • Dave – No comments have been deleted (and there are no flagged comments awaiting for moderation). So… not sure what you’re talking about or why you think we’d take the time to keep the “truth” from being exposed. This doesn’t even come close to the most divisive film we’ve reviewed this year – we can handle disagreement.

      The film, currently, has over 50% on RT – so this is hardly a case where the film is across the board “not worth the money.” If it’s not for you, fine but, if you haven’t seen the movie yourself, then take it easy on the over-generalizations (and accusations).

      • You obviously missed the comments section after the review for ‘Only God Forgives’, Dave…

  10. Don’t care what anyone says this movie was AWESOME!!
    Chloe was fantastic. She made me love the Kick-Ass movie and she made me love this movie.
    Definitely recommend this.

  11. Dave, read the reviews on here for content only. SR accepts a lot of money for ads for cars and current movies, so you can’t possibly take their ratings seriously. Content yes, but not scores. They gave some decent, not flashy movies 2.5 and the predictable 3′s, but AVENGERS got a solid 4. Other than special effects, the movie made little or no sense, and outside of Banner, no one bothered to do any real acting. But that was a 4 out of 5. Snicker.
    And, all sites with moderation for posts delete unwanted posts. If they tell you they never do, they are lying. If this post stays up long enough to be read, which I never check, it will be a miracle.

    • I know they delete posts with racial slurs and very offensive content but I’ve been commenting on this site for 2 years now and I’ve seen some pretty heated debates but never saw a comment taken down because they didn’t like someone’s point of view.

    • I’ve seen great movies get low scores and bad movies get great scores on this site but that’s the great thing about opinions. You don’t have to agree.

      As for moderated posts, Paul’s pretty quick to let them be seen by others as long as you let him know via the form linked underneath the “New Comment” box.

      If you don’t like the staff or this site, take your business elsewhere. The ads are to help pay for servers and other technical costs, any non-profit website will tell you that.

  12. Nice review, Ben. I think I’ll check this out since I never went out of my way to see the original and I think Moretz is a great talent.

  13. Moretz is pure gold. I would go just to see her performance.

  14. A very well written review, though your bias against remakes is very obvious from reading this article. I understand that some people don’t like remakes but I can’t help but feel like that was the big drawback for you for this film. My main takeaway from this article is, “Good movie but it was unnecessary.” Personally, I wish they had been more true to the novel and not done what you accurately describe as a, “true remake, not an extensive reimagining,” which I gather you would have preferred as well. I really enjoyed Moretz in the role as well. I thought she brought a different kind of creepy to the role than Spacek. In this one, like in the book, she knew exactly what she was doing when she hurt people. She enjoyed it. That was done really well. I totally agree that some of the effects were “budgeted” as you put it. It wasn’t too distracting but I definitely noticed. I thought the movie was pretty good. I’ll probably buy it when it comes out. I thought it was good for this generation to get a well made Steven King movie.

  15. Boring, and poor. That’s how I describe this movie.

  16. I really think a remake of Carrie was unnecessary. For all intents and purposes, Chronicle is this generation’s Carrie IMO

    • I agree about Chronicle, that movie actually got brought up in my discussion of Carrie on the car ride home last night.

      And this remake is certainly unnecessary, but most remakes are. I still personally thought it was worth it just for Moretz and modern special effects for the end stuff.

      • Funnily enough, I was reminded of Chronicle when my younger sister was watching the Matilda movie earlier today too. You know, the one based on the Roald Dahl book about the mistreated girl who finds she has telekinetic abilities and uses them against the bullying Miss Trunchbull?

        Really weird seeing the similarities.

        • I, too, thought of “Matilda” . The two films ARE quite similar in terms of basic material and power plays. One is just, obviously, overtly darker than the other…

          • “Chronicle” I can see too, though I find it shares fewer similarities.

    • I agree.

  17. Chloe Moretz and what’s her face, Julianne Moore? both did excellent jobs portraying their characters. It’s worth it just to see them play their roles. And having a version of the story set in the present is fun.

    That being said, yes, the movie adds very little to the original, and in some parts pays direct homage to it. I don’t have a problem with paying homage, but I was disappointed with how little new story was added.

    But all the same, still a good, solid movie. I do recommend it for the peformances, and Carrie is also always a good story. 3/5 stars.

  18. I’m in the camp that is sick of remakes of movies that don’t need to be remade. This is one of those films. The first film was well done, so why should I spend $10 to see this? I shouldn’t. Apparently a lot of people didn’t think they should either, according to the weekend’s box office. If they’re going to remake this, why not make it more like King’s novel?

  19. I think they wasted an opportunity in putting Carrie past the goriness and telekinesis. there’s a real powerful story in the novel that could have made for a good story. the film was ok and both Chloe Moretz and Julianne Moore was top notch in their portrayal. But I think actors are only as good as the script they were given and if the script demanded so little of them, for me they did what they can to inch it further. However, the writers and director missed this opportunity and somewhat Carrie fell in the same category of passable remakes. It’s a such a shame really. I went in the theater expecting a better version but I got an ok.

  20. A good film, but I would have liked to see the director’s interpretation instead of a reshoot of De Palma’s film. Chloe Moretz is amazing and is quickly catching Jennifer Lawrence as my favorite young actress

  21. I’ll eventually see this and I’ll probably like it, but it’s quite annoying when they make completely unnecessary remakes. How about remaking one of the hundred other adaptations of King’s work that were ruined on screen? Carrie was one of the best.

    Since fantasy has become so bankable in the past decade or so, I want to see some Dark Tower action done right.

  22. This film is so much better than DePalma’s 1976 classic for multiple reasons. I love how much closer to the novel it was. Carrie was just pure amazing.

  23. Just watch it last week, not as bad as I thoght actually

  24. Saw it this afternoon after it was finally released in Australia today.

    I think as a remake it stands up fairly well, most of the performances are great and a bit of a upgrade to the special effects from the 1976 was also kinda nice but as good as she was and as much respect for her as an actress I have I think Chloe was wrong for Carrie, she was too pretty. Sure you can put on scraggy clothes and lay on the pale makeup but she didn’t have that “look” that made Sissy Spacek’s Carrie so iconic.

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