Kimberly Peirce’s remake of Carrie has been overshadowed in the media by Spike Lee’s reboot of Oldboy. Every Oldboy news piece is unleashed like a ticking time bomb that, like Carrie White, could explode at any moment. Carrie on the other hand has barely caused a stir, mainly because the promotional images and videos lack any provocative edge. I long ago guessed Peirce’s version would just be a slightly glossier, less impactful version of Brian De Palma’s 1976 original. And that was an accurate prediction. The plot and themes are still intact. Shy teenager Carrie (now Chloë Grace Moretz) is bullied at school and has no friends – if she was in Mean Girls, no clique would accept her. At home, Carrie is locked up in a small room by her fanatically religious mother (Julianne Moore). The house doesn’t even have the internet – the ultimate timewaster and emotional crux for the permanently lonely. However, the same can’t be said for her classroom peers. In an early scene, Carrie experiences her period in the girls’ shower room; the unsympathetic response leads to chanting (“Plug it up!”) and a viral video that spreads to YouTube. Modern technology is the most obvious addition, but is inconsequential. (My favourite example is stranger teaching Carrie how to watch an online video on full screen.) Carrie still goes to the prom and yes, that scene occurs. The alterations are smaller yet thematically significant, especially when Peirce is less willing to punish the innocent. That kind of “Hollywoodisation” is clear from Moretz’s casting; sticking Hit-Girl on posters might sell tickets, but works against the character’s timidity. Moretz could easily be mistaken for one of the cheerleaders, which makes Carrie strangely lopsided and more a marketing formula. Why remake Carrie if there’s barely any difference? There isn’t even the subtitles excuse. And if that’s the case, then why review it at all? I suspect Carrie fans will be seduced by a game of “spot the difference” (it’s tempting to make this review a simple list of differences), but Peirce is presumably trying to introduced Carrie to a younger audience. (That would explain the proliferation of smartphones.) The blood-filled climax subsequently becomes tamer: the nightmarish glow is gone, while Peirce edits the pinnacle moment like a pop music video. I half-expected the bucket of pig’s blood to be 50% watered down. Without De Palma’s trademark split screens, Peirce’s personal voice amounts to little more than a world where text messages are written in all caps. If this Carrie was released without the baggage of the original, I’d be praising the supernatural twist on the coming-of-age story, and the underlying feminist theme. But I can’t rewrite history. Even Stephen King, the original author of Carrie, has questioned the remake. (Remember, this is the same Stephen King who remade The Shining long after Kubrick’s version.) Just as Let Me In (also starring Moretz) failed to replace Let the Right One In in viewers’ memory, Peirce’s Carrie will be forever forgotten – locked away inside a small room during prom night.
Last updated: 31/05/2018 00:00:54