DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

CARRIE (director: Kimberly Peirce; screenwriter: from the Stephen King novel/Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Lawrence D. Cohen; cinematographer: Steve Yedlin; editors:  Lee Percy/Nancy Richardson; music:  Marco Beltrami; cast: Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie White), Julianne Moore (Margaret White), Judy Greer (Ms. Desjardin), Portia Doubleday (Chris Hargensen), Alex Russell (Billy Nolan), Gabriella Wilde (Sue Snell), Ansel Elgort (Tommy Ross),  Barry Shabaka Henley (Principal Morton), Hart Bochner (Chris' lawyer dad); Runtime: 99; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Kevin Misher; Sony Pictures; 2013)

"The update reimagining is entertaining enough, but finds nothing new to say."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Gifted but flawed director Kimberly Peirce's ("Stop-Loss"/"Boys Don't Cry") respectable but unnecessary remake revisits with too much respect Brian De Palma's intriguing 1976 classic horror flick, that featured the memorable frightening performance by Sissy Spacek, and was based on Stephen King's popular 1974 novel. The update reimagining is entertaining enough, but finds nothing new to say. The derivative film is funny as camp, sensitive in its portrayal of its freakish heroine, eerie in a classical Hollywood horror sense and, though cartoonish, serious about delivering its banal message that all humans can snap if faced with too much pressure or ridicule.

The compelling story, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lawrence D. Cohen, has traction covering the mental instability of a fanatical Bible-thumping mom, Margaret White (Julianne Moore), who gave birth unassisted at home and with outsized scissors almost slaughtered her unwanted daughter Carrie (Chloë Grace Moretz) as a sacrifice to God because she believed she sinned by giving in to lust but at the last moment relents and embraces her child. The child grows up a mess, mentally crippled by her mother's mistrust of the world. The tortured mother-daughter relationship grows dangerously tortured when the troubled daughter discovers she has unusual powers through telekinetics.

When Carrie suffers great humiliation in gym class over her ignorance of the menstrual cycle and that leads to her being taunted by her cruel classmates, the pic's heavy, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), daddy's (Hart Bochner) entitled daughter, records on her smartphone Carrie's distress over her period and the poor girl is laughed at as the school fool as the video travels through the student body. One of the taunters, the conflicted decent girl Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), repents and in an act of self-sacrifice forces her dreamboat jock boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), to take Carrie to the prom so she can assuage her guilt by giving up something she wanted most.

Things are moving along at a fine clip until the story loses its magical Cinderella slipper during its De Palma-like bloodbath senior prom-night sequence, where things go ridiculously hokey in a special effects show that channels an excessive amount of gore. During this CGI madcap sequence, the sweet performance by Moretz, who fully inhabits Carrie's timidity, fragility and predicament, seemingly gets swept under the rug as things flame out and the heroine's vulnerability is replaced by unleashing her supernatural powers to kill in revenge those who treated her with contempt and thereby much of the sympathy invested in her character dissipates. The pic becomes trashy and loses its artistic focus in favor of schlock.

REVIEWED ON 10/18/2013       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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