Monday, December 28, 2015

Carrie (2013)

We have yet another remake of Carrie, this time starring Chole Moretz and Julianne Moore. At first, I was in high spirits because both Moore and Moretz are really good actors and putting them together in a movie would be a solid match. I also read that the filmmakers were going to make it more faithful to the novel just like the TV movie but with more better special effects and better acting. Not to mention Kimberly Pierce, best known for Boys Don't Cry, one of her greatest achievement, who seem to be the perfect fit for Director. From my understanding, I thought the movie would have the same psychological tone from the Stephen King novel and the 1976 film. Boy, I was wrong.
It wasn't that I was pissed off or irritated by it. The movie just left me empty. Unsatisfied. There was nothing new or original brought to the table, when it had all the opportunity to do that. This had a lot of potential and great actors to play the main roles but it failed to keep my interest.
Now this is what I'm going to call an EPIC review, not only I'm I going to do comparisons to the 1976 original but also the novel and a little bit of the TV remake as well. So let's get ready folks...
The Story: You guys should know the story already: Teen misfit gets bullied by her classmates, including her mom all the while discovering a special power. She soon uses this special power to her advantage once one of her classmates take a prank too far on prom night unleashing her fury on those who wronged her....
The only actors that did really good performances was, of course, Chole Moretz and Julianne Moore but even they didn't live up to how memorable the performances were in the original.

Chole Moretz as Carrie was...okay. She is a decent actress but the script kind of hinders her acting. It's not a bad performance however it's just not as good as Sissy Spacek's. I would give the filmmakers props for casting an age-appropriate actress to make the character actually feel vulnerable around the environment she's in. Some would complain that Chloe Moretz is too pretty for the role but so was Sissy Spacek. There could've been ways for the filmmakers to make Chloe unflattering. But all they do is give her messy hair and drab clothing. I can clearly see a makeup foundation as well. A little blush here and little blush there.

But the biggest issue I had with Chloe's version of Carrie is her characterization. I know that in the book she is pretty aware of her powers and it's used to good effect. But in this I felt like I was watching a superhero origin story. You see there was a slow buildup to her powers in both the novel and the 1976 original. The filmmakers made the mistake by yet again making Carrie too powerful. Not that it matters but the realism to it is less engaging. The original had a low budget though it worked for it.

However with these effects here, it's too much handle. The scary part of the novel and 1976 film was that Carrie was an emotional timebomb, which triggers her powers and once her emotions get the better of her, it causes chaos. 2013 Carrie seem to use her powers at her own will and is pretty in control of her powers. Again, It's not a bad thing but it doesn't make the story effective.

Once we get to the prom night scene, it was kind of what I expected. But what I'm really trying to focus on is Carrie's reaction. Yes, it shows that in the book she is quite pissed off and kills everybody in murderous glee as she does in this version but she just kills them intentionally with out batting an eye. What I liked in the 1976 version is that Carrie is hurt, humiliated and therefore shocked and angry, all these emotions get this best of her which resulted in the prom scene massacre. In that version is where it worked for me because seeing Carrie with that shell-shocked look with all the mayhem around her is one of the most haunting iconic horror images seen on film. Sadly, this version and the interpretation of that character doesn't capture the same magic.

We have Julianne Moore in yet another remake, this time playing Margret White, Carrie's fanatical, psychotic religious mother. I thought Julianne Moore did an okay job but some part of me kept thinking both the script and how she portrayed Margret reserved somehow. In the book, she is a mentally unhinged heavyset woman who would speak in tongues and self-harm herself. She does indeed self-harm herself but it's done in a much more subtle manner. In the 1976 film, Piper Laurie brings in one of the most chilling performances. It's over-the-top but in good way. Julianne Moore's performance in this movie is nowhere near memorable. Moore does indeed try but she's not scary enough. Not intimidating enough. I think the filmmakers were trying to make her more sympathetic, which completely misses the point.

In the end though, Julianne Moore's performance was just safe. That's all I could say is safe. And when you play such a character, that's not how the way you go.

Gabriella Wilde as Sue Snell was bland. Just so incredibly bland. At least Amy Irving brought personality to the role and made the character likeable. Wilde, however, is nothing more than a walking, talking plastic Barbie doll throughout the rest of the movie. There is a lot depth to the Sue Snell character in the novel where she feels clouded by her morality and her somewhat wholesome, mundane life.

In the 1976 movie, it never really explores the relationship between Sue and Tommy but the movie at least tries do that even though I didn't see any amount of chemistry between the two actors. Another special plot point is Sue's pregnancy. This was scrapped in the 1976 and 2002 adaptation but with this version it never really hints at it and it's just a throwaway line to further enhance Carrie's Psychic powers.

Gabriella Wilde brought  in horribly wooden performance. I mean this girl could barely emote. And I think she was only hired for her looks than her overall talent.

Portia Doubleday as Chris was over-the-top and god-awful. You see Nancy Allen played the character in a way where you love to hate her. In this version, I just plain hate her. In the novel, she was just you're typical mean girl who was nothing more than an entitled, spoiled rich girl who just happen to be influenced by her delinquent boyfriend Billy.

Speaking of Billy, lets focus on the actor for a little bit. Although he's got the bad boy look going for him, I really wasn't impressed by his performance. Again, when it comes to a role where a person suppose to be intimidating and threatening in movie like this, it always turns out lackluster. Even if I liked him in Chronicle, he really didn't put any effort in this movie.

Okay back to Chris. In the 1976, She's still is the spoiled alpha bitch type, though, she's more of the puppeteer in the whole pig's blood plot. In this version, however, it's like the filmmakers are making her out to be this psychopath. They were trying so hard to make her the villain of the piece to the point where this is no realism to the character. For example, in the novel, Chris actually tries to stop Billy from running over Carrie. In this version, she encourages him because she is a straight up sociopath. The filmmakers could've taken a chance to put some humanity to the character. Yeah, sure she's still a horrid, entitled bitch but she actually feels bad about the prom night incident. However, she is reduced to a borderline maniac.

She finally FINALLY gets her comeuppance by getting a rather gruesome death scene. That is completely fine by me.

I'm glad that this version gave Tommy Ross a personality to see how likeable of a guy he is. Better yet the movie actually had the type of guy girls would obsess over. He's tall, gorgeous (of course) and a has an incredible smile. So I have complaint over that. Ansel Elgort is definitely the cat's meow.

Judy Greer was so sadly miscast as Miss Desjardin. She just wasn't believable as the tough but soft-hearted gym teacher. She just came off like the goofy best friend in one of her romantic comedies. A role she's usually good at. Okay for a special note, Miss Desjardin does, in fact, survive in  the novel. She's not quite so lucky in the 1976 film. That was one of the tragic moments of the movie because even though Miss Collins ( her name in the film) was sincere to Carrie, she still gets killed. However in this version, Carrie intentionally saves Miss Desjardin from the carnage. So yeah, Carrie just kill this people out of murderous glee while saving the people that was nice to her. Make sense but it still doesn't make the story effective.
I would give the filmmakers props for bringing in the same screenwriter who wrote the 1976 original but that's also a problem as well. There were scenes that has the same word for word dialogue and the some of it doesn't hold up in this version.

They also brought in Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa as co-writer, who's mostly known for writing comic books. And that's sort of the feel that I got from this film. It felt like I was watching comic book movie instead of a psychological horror movie. Now this leads to the special effects. When I think of a horror movie, I don't think of a big budget spectacle, which is exactly what this movie is. When I go back the 1976 film, I think of the story not the effects. When you adapt a story like Carrie, there has to be build up to those moments.

Now were finally focusing on the Prom Night scene. It was basic copycat of the Dark Phoenix saga and the death scenes were something out of a final destination movie. It was just so cartoony. And although the death of Billy and Chris was handled, most of the time it was a bit of an overkill. Bigger and grander is not always better.

Once I heard the filmmakers were set to remake this, I said to myself, they should get a director with some indie cred and Kimberly Pierce is that type of director. Sure, what does Stephen King and Brian De Palma know about teenage girls?  Kimberly Pierce was the perfect choice, since Boys Don't Cry was great movie with great direction. But I was really disappointed by the lack of vision this movie has. Pierce's direction is just so off. You never get any subtle quiet moments that made the original memorable.

The modern setting is the biggest problem that I had with the film. Okay, there's a part where Chris videotapes Carrie in the shower and uploads on the internet. What an idiot. That she's basically trying to get herself expelled from school. And that's why you can't have a story like this set in modern times. Sure, bullying still goes on tis day and age but it would've been more appropriate to set this in the 70's since both the book and the original movie was set in that era. What they could've done was set the movie in 1979 then go further to present time to interview people that had experiences with Carrie. I say this because the book is that same form where it had experts from books and interviews explaining Carrie's psychosis.

Though this is what totally pissed me off. There were missing scenes that was cut from the movie. Like a whole chunk of them. And the director's cut is probably a different and much better movie than the one we got here. I don't know who's idea to cut these, what I call, important scenes but it was probably studio interference how sad.

In fact, we don't get to see Carrie destroy half of Chamberlin. They have the special effects for that but it was still cut which baffles me because I'm pretty sure I saw the scene in the trailer somewhere.
The strongest part of the novel was how everybody is deeply affected in the aftermath. It was kind of sad and tragic in way. There could've been some potential to put that in this movie.
This leads me to the final problem I have with this film, it had no emotional impact. The 1976 film brought out many emotions from me. I was sad, I was happy, I was scared, and I was sad again to the point where there were tears in my eyes. That's how wonderful the original is. This version just ends with a hint of a sequel that we didn't ask for. I just felt nothing about this movie. It was empty and shallow and nowhere near as gut-wrenching or tragic as the original.
The Verdict? Always always always watch the original. It's an all time classic and one of the best horror movies of it's time. This version, however, is nothing more than a stale imitation. They have a good actress to play the part but it doesn't really save the movie from being bland. It's not as investing and it doesn't hook you in, it's just a run-of-the-mill, generic horror remake.
My Last Word: Like I said, go watch the original, far much better film.


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