I have broken my promise not to watch this remake. Since it came out, I’ve harped on how unnecessary it was to make a new Carrie that follows the guidelines of the original exactly. But for some reason, it called out to me yesterday as I was flipping through my Netflix options, and I wish I had ignored it.
Let me begin by saying it is impossible not to nitpick this film to death. For starters, you’ll be endlessly comparing Chloe Grace Moretz to Sissy Spacek (no contest there). And then, even when you aren’t comparing the 2013 edition of Carrie to its 1976 counterpart, you’ll be comparing it to the novel. I thoroughly enjoy the original Carrie movie, but it’s undeniable that it gets some things completely wrong in regards to Stephen King’s original story. Chiefly, Carrie is supposed to be utterly unappealing.
Carrie stood among them stolidly, a frog among swans. She was a chunky girl with pimples on her neck and back and buttocks, her wet hair completely without color. It rested against her face with dispirited sogginess as she simply stood, head slightly bent, letting the water splat against her flesh and roll off. She looked the part of a sacrificial goat […]
Sissy Spacek, though not disgusting, is not exactly the definition of pretty. Nonetheless, I’d say she’s a far cry from being as much of a troll as the novel version of Carrie seems to be.
I’m convinced that Spacek was given the role because she can make this face:
What can Moretz do? Pout. That’s what.
She is simply too pretty to play this character. Her body is feminine, her features are sharp and pretty, and when she cleans up for the prom it’s like watching a 1990’s teen comedy in which the nerdy girl gets a make over and suddenly looks like Natalie Portman walking down the staircase. At least when Spacek got ready for prom, she was still incredibly awkward, wearing only red lipstick and having not really done anything outside of put on a dress that exposes her “dirty pillows” (my favorite phrase in the franchise). Moretz actually looks like a prom queen, with air brushed perfect make up and hair that, I’m sorry, requires tools and product that would never be allowed in the White house. She does not look scary when the rage sits in. It’s not Moretz fault of course, it’s just bad casting.
Aside from this gigantic problem of choosing the wrong actress as the face of the film, the 2013 incarnation of Carrie just does not offer anything substantial in terms of departure from its predecessors. A re-make is supposed to provide something new, especially in terms of back story or explanations for the events that have transpired. Sure, we see Carrie’s birth at the beginning of the film, and we do get one extra line from 2013 Carrie that provides just the tiniest hint of closure in terms of what happened to Carrie’s father, but it’s just not enough to necessitate a entire new film. It’s like these were just scenes that were cut from the 1976 version. Oh, except in this version, Chris Hargensen uploads a video of Carrie to youtube. Admittedly, this would make the whole “plug it up” situation more embarrassing, but this is clearly just an attempt to make the story seem like it’s in a modern setting. Again, this is not something that in any way enhances the story. It’s just there for the sake of being there.
There were a few aspects of the remake that I did like. The actor who plays Tommy in this version is far more convincing that the smarmy, curly, blonde, white boy afro Tommy of 1976. In the novel, Tommy really seems sincere. He is not as immature as the other jocks in his class, and has a certain insight that allows him to respect Sue’s decision to have Carrie go to prom with him, and he even seems to enjoy himself. He seems like a legitimately nice person. Ansel Elgort (who seems to be gaining popularity among the current wave of YA novel adaptations) has a far better handle on this character than 1976’s William Katt, who I far preferred in the cheesetastic horror comedy, House. Whether this is a result of the actor himself or the direction he was given, I can’t say. One other piece of praise I have to give for the 2013 edition of Carrie is that we actually see what happens to Chris Hargensen, and she really deserves it so that is a welcome bit of catharsis.
Are you expecting me to compare Piper Laurie and Julianne Moore? Well that is the biggest tossup of the two films. Both make substantially uncomfortable mother figures in their deliveries as Margaret White. If Piper Laurie is scarier, it is only because I have heard her say “that was the first sin” far more times in my head. Julianne Moore is right up there with her in terms of inducing rage and simultaneous fear.
Take my advice, don’t bother caving in if you have not watched the re-make yet.