Decades before Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy created a nightmarish vision of an unhinged high school student’s killing spree in the first season of American Horror Story, Stephen King explored similar territory with his horrific coming-of-age novel Carrie. Memories of such terrible events as the Columbine High School Massacre and similar shootings that have transpired over the past decade make King’s story (of a teenager seeking vengeance against his tormentors) all the less approachable now, than when Brian De Palma adapted the book in 1976.
A re-adaptation/remake of Carrie is developing from Kimberly Peirce, who proved to possess the delicate touch necessary for handling a fictional tale like King’s with her direction on Boys Don’t Cry (based on the true story about a transgender teen brutalized by her peers). The first images from Peirce’s film have been released, offering an early look at her contemporary re-interpretation of Carrie White (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) and her mother Margaret (Julianne Moore).
Sissy Spacek as Carrie in her blood-drenched prom dress (from De Palma’s film) has become an iconic cinematic image, so it’s fitting that one of the first official pics from Peirce’s project reveals Moretz likewise doused in bloody sludge. The 15-year old actress kept her tongue pressed firmly in-cheek while playing a killer masked vigilante in Matthew Vaughn’s satirical Kick-Ass, Moretz later adapted a beyond-her-years manner to portray an elder vampire trapped in a child’s body in Let Me In. Carrie, however, calls for a more humanizing performance from Moretz, as an innocent young girl horrified when she releases the monster within – and, judging by the expression on her face in the first image, Moretz has nailed it.
Julianne Moore likewise looks more ordinary as Margaret White in the second pic from Peirce’s Carrie, as opposed to Piper Laurie’s Oscar-nominated turn in De Palma’s movie (with her expansive, curly 1970s ‘do that almost recalls Bride of Frankenstein). Laurie is mesmerizing in the role, for certain, but Moore explained to Entertainment Weekly that her hope is to sketch Margaret as less a deranged Christian Fundamentalist stereotype and more a broken woman who “has clearly had a psychotic break, perhaps several… and here’s this poor child in the thrall of this person who is seriously ill. And on top of that, they have this mother-daughter relationship. So we want to make that relationship as meaningful as possible, even though it is horrible and destructive.”
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The Carrie remake script was penned by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a co-showrunner and writer on Ryan Murphy’s other ongoing hit television series Glee. Moreover, before Sacasa started contributing creatively to Murphy’s high school musical dramedy creation, he worked on HBO’s polygamist family drama Big Love. Hence, his experience working on both shows should inform his approach to updating Carrie, hopefully culminating in a final film that realizes King’s story in a fashion that resonates with modern moviegoers – while also bringing out new dimensions to the characters that allow it to stand apart as a worthwhile endeavor, even when stacked up against De Palma’s revered movie adaptation.
Carrie opens in U.S. theaters on March 13th, 2013.