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You can only push someone so far…


The H-Bomb: Teenage outcast Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is showering after gym class one day when she starts to bleed. Not realizing what’s actually happening, Carrie has an epic freak out in the locker room, which is helped in no way by her fellow female schoolmates, led by evil alpha-bitch, Chris (Portia Doubleday), who pelt her with tampons. We soon learn that the reason Carrie has no idea what a period is, at the age of eighteen, is because she’s been sheltered her whole life by her super-Christian mother (Julianne Moore), a fanatical moon bat who believes that sex and women are, of course, pure evil.

As if she wasn’t already, this tampon incident has turned Carrie into the laughing stock of the entire school. But one person who isn’t at all amused by this hilarious act of cruelty is the gym teacher, Ms. Desjardin (Judy Greer), who punishes the ring leader of the tampon attack, Chris, by barring her from attending the upcoming prom. Meanwhile, another one of the girls who took part in the pelting, Sue (Gabriella Wilde), actually feels remorse for what she did, and tries to make up for it by getting her hunky boyfriend, Tommy (Ansel Elgort), to ask Carrie to the prom.

At first, Carrie is reluctant, fearing it’s just another prank, but even if it isn’t, she knows that the news of getting a date will not go over well with her mother. After some persistence on Tommy’s part, Carrie finally caves in and agrees to go, her Jesus freak mama be damned. However, getting past her mother is not going be Carrie’s only obstacle of the evening, as Chris is still plenty pissed about not being allowed to the prom, and she’s planning a nasty little surprise for Carrie at the dance.

What Chris doesn’t know, though, is that Carrie possesses a very special gift… a gift that can make her into a very dangerous person if she gets angry enough… I think we all know where it goes from here.

Before I get into why this, the second remake of Carrie (it was first remade as a TV movie in 2002) ultimately doesn’t work, let me go over the positives. First, and this is the primary reason to see the film, is Moretz’s portrayal of the title character. As a girl, who through no fault of her own, is an outsider and is socially ill-equipped to enter the world, she is absolutely marvelous. She takes Stephen King’s complex, tormented character, and makes her into someone that the audience truly feels pity towards and is terrified of at the same time. Moretz is considered one of the very best actresses in her age bracket, and her work here is most definitely a testament to that.

Then there’s the supporting cast, which is solid all around, but special shout outs have to go to Moore, who is genuinely scary as Carrie’s psychotic, suffocating mother, and Greer, as the sympathetic teacher who sincerely feels for Carrie and tries to help her. The performances notwithstanding, the film is also exceptionally well crafted by Oscar bait director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop-Loss), who, in particular, made the climatic telekinetic massacre spectacularly horrific… if not a wee bit over-the-top.

By any typical standard, this new version of Carrie is a perfectly decent film. So, why then, would I say it doesn’t work? Well, because we’ve seen this movie before… literally. This is not a new adaptation of the Stephen King novel, no sir, this is a beat for beat carbon copy of the 1976 Brian De Palma film. So much so, in fact, that the original film’s screenwriter, Lawrence D. Cohen, is actually given a writing credit on this one, simply because the remake follows his outline that precisely.

The problem with this is that instead of watching the film to see what happens next, I’m merely waiting for the things that I already know are going to happen… to happen. I made a list in my mind ahead of time, then checked off each story beat and plot point as they occurred on screen, in the exact order I predicted. Carrie has her period, check. Carrie gets pelted with tampons, check. Tommy asks Carrie to the prom, check. Chris and her douchebag boyfriend go kill a pig for reasons that will later be apparent, check… you get the picture. Having seen the 1976 film, I went into this knowing everything that was going to happen, when it was going to happen, and so will anyone else who’s seen the earlier film. Take it from me, it makes for one dull movie going experience.

Now, by this point, I know better than to ask why Hollywood remakes movies, especially horror movies, because it’s pretty damn obvious ($$$). But in a case like this, where a remake follows an original this closely, it just seems especially gratuitous. Yes, there are some modern tweaks to the story, such as someone recording the tampon attack on a cell phone and putting it online, which one could argue makes the story relevant in how it relates to bullying and the tragic consequences it can have in today’s world, but minus the Internet angle, that point was already very much driven home in the original film. King was ahead of his time on that one.

In a way, I really do feel awful telling people to skip Carrie, because Moretz gives a harrowing performance and completely makes the role her own, and on its own merits, it’s not at all a bad movie. But as far as remakes go, this one ranks up there with Psycho as being one of the most utterly pointless. I don’t know how else I can say it, so I’ll simply reiterate, if you’ve seen the De Palma film, then you’ve seen this one. Plain and bloody simple.

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