CARRIE. Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Julienne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, the Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday. Directed by Kimberley Pearce.100 minutes. Rated MA 15+ (Strong horror violence).

Carrie was a surprise hit film of 1976, both at the box office and critically, with Oscar nominations. It made a star out of Sissy Spacek and marked Piper Laurie’s later career as successfully dramatic. It was the first cinema adaptation of the Stephen King story.

As with so many re-makes, fans of the original ask why a re-make is necessary.  Perhaps it is not necessary, but it can offer an interesting opportunity for a re-interpretation. This film is an arresting re-working of the story and characters, but, on the whole, the fans were critical, especially of Chloe Grace Moretz considered too pretty to portray Carrie.

The film has been directed by Kimberley Peirce, who was successful in directing Boys Don’t Cry. She brings a strong female perspective to this film and a strong empathy towards Carrie and an understanding of her mother. To that extent, it is a re-interpretation, placing a great emphasis on bullying at school, as well as religious physical and psychological abuse at home. The girls at school are quite callous in their torment of Carrie, at sport, in the school corridors, in the shower block after she experiences her first period and does not understand it and experiences bewilderment and pain, and the girls call out mocking her, throwing tampons at her, filming her plight and then posting it on Facebook.

Chloe Grace Moretz is a very good actress and gives an interesting interpretation of Carrie. And Julianne Moore is very strong as her mother. Judy Greer has a good role as the sympathetic teacher.

Audiences familiar with Stephen King’s story will follow the prom night development, Carrie reluctant, Sue feeling guilty about her role in the torment of Carrie, urging her boyfriend Tom to take Carrie to the prom, his initial reluctance, his charm, the limo, his gentlemanly behaviour towards Carrie at the prom, urging her to dance. It seems ironic that he should die in the fiasco of the prom.

Gabriella Wilde is the more sympathetic Sue. Portia Doubleday is calculating malice as Carrie’s tormentor.

Of course, those familiar with the story are waiting for the prom and the scene with the bucket of pig’s blood. There is a build up as we see the malicious girl killing the pig and the collection of the blood, her watching from above the proscenium to wait for the moment to pour the blood on Carrie. Once carry is drenched, she becomes an icon of vengeance with her telekinetic powers, creating mayhem in the hall, death and destruction, as she moves her arms and hands as if she were conducting an orchestra.

Finally, Carrie confronts her mother, who has often put her daughter in a cupboard filled with religious pictures and crucifixes, where, at one stage, Carrie sees blood flowing on a crucifix. As her powers are exercised on her mother, she transfixes her to the cupboard door like a crucifixion.

There is some slight respite at the end as explanations are given in a courtroom scene. Then Sue goes to the cemetery, to Carrie’s grave. Because this is a remake, it would have been appropriate to repeat the great shock sequence, so often imitated since, at the end of the original. The same point is made here, but in an ever-so-slight way, which is disappointing. But the film is an interesting re-make.

Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.


November 28 2013.

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