When I first received confirmation of the decision to remake Brian De Palma's classic 1976 film CARRIE, my first thought was, "Why remake a classic that, aside from the special effects and the 70’s clothing, is a pretty flawless film?” It is no secret that many popular film franchises that have run their course become fodder for, reboots, remakes and my personal favorite term: the reimagining. Some of the new versions ranged from the good (Friday the 13th) to the bad (My Bloody Valentine) to the downright ugly (Prom Night). Since most of these films fail to set the box office world on fire, I have to wonder why these movies keep getting remade. The cynical answer to both questions is simple: they are cheap to make and need very little advertising to get people in to the theater. They cast unknowns or TV actors in the roles, which aids in keeping the film’s budgets under control. They take shortcuts that make it possible for the studio to make a profit off of these remakes. The problem is that those shortcuts often sacrifice quality and creativity in the process. So as long as people go to see them, rent them or buy them they will continue to be made. Unfortunately, all of these horrors are true of the remake of Brian De Palma’s classic 1976 film CARRIE, which is another unnecessary remake in a long list of other unnecessary remakes.
I will admit I was more interested in this remake due to the decision to cast Chloë Moretz as Carrie and Julianne Moore as her overly-religious mother Margaret. Directing duties we assigned to Kimberly Peirce, the director of another awkward teen coming-of-age film BOYS DON’T CRY. Unfortunately that is where inspiration stopped. There is nothing new or fresh in this film. Lines of dialogue and entire scenes are lifted directly from the original film. Although the film is modernized with the use of cell phones and the Internet, even this update is mishandled. The technology is used to further torment Carrie but the opportunity to explore cyber-bulling of the story is more an afterthought in this film. The story’s climax which takes place at the prom-a possible upgrade to De Palma’s version- but the original maintains the edge due to the use of split-screen to show the mayhem that ensues. A car wreck and its aftermath on the occupants of vehicle in the remake is the best sequence in the entire film but it is not enough for me to recommend the film. The performances by Moretz and Moore are as good as you can expect but they are not enough to counter-balance the awful performances of the supporting actors in the film. Given the caliber of the director, I was surprised at the lack of quality in the performances.
I try view remakes in a vacuum and pretend any previous versions of the film do not exist: this is the only way I can fairly treat sequels, remakes, reboots, and "reimaginings". As I began to watch CARRIE I kept trying to convince myself that the original did not exist and enjoy this film on its own merits. Unfortunately, there were not many good merits to judge it by. Every time I saw something promising, there was a "but" that destroyed the effect. In short, I am disappointed with this film. It further cements my notion that Hollywood needs to stop with these remakes unless they truly have a new twist to the original material. The "twists" of this remake simply are not substantial enough to warrant the existence of this film. As I write this review, the original is streaming on Netflix: skip the remake and see the original instead.