Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Carrie (2013)

By Sati. Tuesday, October 22, 2013 , , , , , , ,
And just like the Devil keeps coming back, so do Carrie remakes.

We all know the story of shy Carrie White. Living in the house with her religiously fanatical mother, bullied by her school mates and finally invited to the prom which goes horribly wrong. Because another thing about Carrie is - she has the power of telekinesis. And that's what makes her someone you really do not want to bully. I'll never understand the obsessive need of remaking movies that not only already exist in English language versions, but in addition are the masterpieces of the genre. Despite its shameful imdb ratting (seriously, what the fuck?) Brian De Palma's first adaptation of Carrie is not only the classic of horror genre but one of the most important horror movies ever made. It's been 37 years and the film has not aged - De Palma's unique approach to the story still feels fresh and the film remains a technical marvel - with all the CGI, with all the tricks available today I doubt there are many directors who could recreate the masterpiece that is the prom sequence from original film.

But what made De Palma's movie ever more special was how authentic, even in this hyper world of his movie, the relationships and people felt. You genuinely felt for Carrie, you kept rooting for her. You saw her pain when she was bullied and you hated the bullies. You were scared of Margaret White and you were scared for Carrie when she was around her mother.
The biggest problem with this remake is not the hilariously miscast group of actors or the fact the director, Kimberly Peirce, who despite being responsible for Boys don't Cry clearly lost her talent (I've seen commercials that were directed better than this Carrie), has no idea what she wants to do with this story - it's the fact that this retelling of Carrie doesn't provoke any emotions. Well, except for anger that you lost your time and money. And genuine embarrassment for Julianne Moore.

And it started promising - for the very first time in adaptation of Carrie we were shown the moment Carrie was born. The camera slowly moves up the stairs and shows us Margaret White, convulsing in pain on the bed. Then we see little baby between her legs. Margaret grabs scissors and before killing the child she looks at her daughter, puts down the scissors and hugs Carrie. That's it. That is the only fresh (and not ridiculous) thing this remake brought to the table.
The infuriating thing is that if the director and the writer actually followed the film keeping roots in that scene and focused more on the relationship between Margaret and Carrie they would have made a good movie (with different actors, though). Instead of the promised reimagining of the novel we simply got almost exact remake of De Palma's film - without his skill, without the great performances, without imagination and pretty much without everything that made his movie so special.

In the original film Laurie and Spacek really did feel like mother and daughter. Here you don't get a feeling like that. Moore delivers terrible performance - I was genuinely embarrassed for her. She was trying to recreate what Laurie did and she failed. The chemistry between her and Moretz is so off you never feel differently than watching two actresses trying to imitate two legendary performances and failing miserably.
The film also fucks up the dynamics in the story. Chris is being shown in more favorable light here - her psycho boyfriend pushes her towards some things instead of the other way around, the town is not afraid enough of Margaret, there is not enough emphasis put on Christianity and how it is perceived through Margaret's actions - that might have been very interesting given modern setting.

But the worst part is the bullying and Carrie's revenge. The biggest change in this retelling of the story is the fact Carrie is completely aware of what she is doing when the prom massacre is happening. I have not read the novel, but in 1976 and 2002 versions Carrie went into a trance - her power was being unleashed and she was just standing there. It was very easy to continue to see her as innocent and sweet after she snapped out of it at home and started crying.
But not here. I'm not exactly sure what the hell they thought they were doing but showing a heroine of the movie take bloody revenge and commit mass murder because she was bullied is not a reasonable thing to do. No, wait. It's fucking insane. With all the school shootings nowadays do we really need a film that shows bullied girl triumph over bullies by killing them? Yes, the bulling was bad in the film. But it was not bad enough for me to watch Carrie take pleasure in killing these people and feel it's justified.

Because what Carrie experienced wasn't as bad as in other versions - here there were several people that were nice to Carrie not just Tommy, Sue and the teacher - the negative side of things is not negative enough. And the fact Carrie takes so much pleasure in killing those people is not justified - it's not even an accurate progression - because of the masterfully timed prom sequence in 76's version the blood drop was enough - it was one drop of humiliation that tipped Carrie over the edge. Here her outburst - though it has the right triggers - does not feel believable because Peirce has absolutely no idea how to build tension and how to show tension rising in Carrie.
The whole prom massacre is another failure. As I mentioned there is no tension, but the fact is that even if you think this remake is a bad idea, you'll probably see it just to check out what they did with this iconic scene. Well, that is actually a huge let down too. Carrie, 2002 TV version, had awful production values but they managed to pull off the massacre scene MUCH better than this studio movie did.

Not only is the sequence too short - it's completely devoided of finesse and imagination which made it so powerful in De Palma's film. Worse yet - it keeps cutting to different things - Chris trying to escape, Sue on the phone - instead of keeping the focus on Carrie, we are continuously distracted in 5 minutes sequence, which also makes it feel shorter. The big climax is like something that was cut down to match kids with ADD attention span.
That's not all - we see the blood drop FOUR times. Four. Why? That was probably Peirce's way of showing how terrible the act was. I guess when you lack skill and imagination repetition is the only hing that is left. And it gets even worse - in this version Carrie actually flies. She flies off the stage. Then she actually stomps her foot and breaks the road. Earlier in the movie she can make the lock in the door red hot. It's a damn mess, people.

And then there is the waving with the hands thing. What make the trance thing and Carrie's power in previous films so chilling is that she basically controls them with her mind. And that is what telekinesis is - controlling objects with your mind. For some inexplicable reason Moretz is using her hands in many scenes, especially during the prom scene. It looks like X Men spin off.
And then the film started being insulting. I gather Chloe Moretz is a big fan of Black Swan. She mentions that movie a lot. It will take you exactly two seconds to see what my favorite movie is - just look at the header. Now, Moretz tries, she does, and given the right material she could create lovely performances. But this is not the right material. Not only does vengeful Carrie wave her hands around - she quietly hisses just like Natalie Portman did when she was Black Swan. It's clear to me Moretz was inspired here and saw the moment Carrie breaks as her own Black Swan moment, but given how uneven that movie is and how unjustified and badly portrayed that break was, it's just awful, awful to witness.

The early promotional material promised a version that will be closer to the book - I'm given to understand there Carrie doesn't just stop at the school but destroys many buildings in the town. Hell, even with the low productoon values they did that in 2002's version. Here, even though you could see some of that in the first teaser for the movie, the events play almost exactly like they did in De Palma's version.
Before Carrie gets home and the finale, which was actually even worse than the massacre, happens there is one good scene in which Carrie kills Chris. Minus the hands thing and silly effect in which Chris's face goes through the window in slow motion, I did like that scene. That kill for me was the only justified one given how things played out in the movie.

The finale though....Jesus. The film was beyond saving by then, but they really buried it in the last few minutes - it's really, really bad when the most retarded things in the movie happen in the ending, as the ending is more often than not one of the things you remember best about the film. Carrie, right before throwing Sue out of the house, tells her that Sue is carrying a girl. That's right. Carrie's hands in addition to being like a torch and invisible lift are also capable of performing ultrasound.
And then Sue visits Carrie's tomb. When she goes away the tomb starts cracking. As rock music plays in the background. I'll tell ya - the first time I saw De Palma's Carrie, Carrie's hand grabbing Sue scared the shit out of me but this time I was genuinely terrified. By the awfulness before me.

As you see there are so many problems with Carrie that the casting of Chloe Moretz is not even that big of an issue. It's an astoundingly bad decision, but there are decisions much worse that were made in the process of making this movie. Moretz tries but she needs to choose different roles instead of capitalizing on someone else's success and doing the remakes or just going for cheap shocks with the swearing, violent, overly sexualized roles.
As for Moore the less is said about what she did here, the better. There are tons of puzzling additions to Margaret - self mutilation, knocking her head on the wall...none of that is properly developed in the movie. The young cast varies from boring to terrible. In fact the only person that was cast well was Judy Greer as Carrie's compassionate teacher. She did a good job and her scenes were the only ones that felt authentic to me.

This is not a bad movie. It wasn't boring, which is a big plus. Moretz is not suited for this part but I did admire the fact she at least tried to do something with the role. But overall - the studio is to blame for how mediocre the film turned out. It's fairly evident they meddled a lot in the process. I'm sure the big executives are the only reason pretty and well known Moretz was cast instead of someone who would genuinely fit the role.

I'm not saying I'm against making new versions of Carrie - there was an idea early on to cast Jodie Foster as Margaret White and I'd love to see that. Also either one of the actresses I wrote about here would make a wonderful Carrie. Throw in the right director, try not to copy what De Palma did, because it's not possible and properly explore at least one of the many themes in the story and you have a good movie. But that Carrie does neither of those things.

Carrie (2013, 100 min)
Plot: A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Writers: Lawrence D. Cohen (screenplay), Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (screenplay)
Stars: Chloƫ Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde

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41 comments:

  1. Man, you were fucking on about this. I knew it wasn't going to be good either because I knew that was going to pale to the original. Plus, what happened to Kimberly Peirce? It seems like she lost some of her mojo and it's now likely that she's going to be known only for Boys Don't Cry while Stop-Loss I felt was pretty damn boring and overwrought in its subject matter. I think de Palma at his worst would make a better film than this. I bow down to you Margaret!!!! You tore that shit up real good!

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    1. It's seems she is sadly the one hit wonder :( He surely would. The man at least has balls.

      Thank you :P

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  2. This is stupid.. Have you read the book?? No you only saw the original.. you don't know nothing

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    1. Yes, I 'do not know nothing'. Except that you are probably one of those pedos who wants to dream about fucking Chloe.

      Fuck off and get help.

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  3. I feel like this may have been better than what you were expecting, but only just? haha
    Too bad about Julianne Moore - Carrie isn't out here yet so I haven't seen it but in my head I always thought she'd be an okay pick for the role.

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    1. Julianne needs to stay away from horror genre. She does her worst there.

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  4. wow lots of spoilers here LOL. i really though chloe and julianne could pull this off, but i LOVE the original. sad to hear this isn't good. will still eventually rent it, but i hope we can see less remakes soon.

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  5. I almost caught this one tonight, by default, but apparently I dodged a bullet. I truly feel that you could remake this movie a thousand times and never come close to finding the terror/magic of a young Sissy Spacek as Carrie. I don't think I've ever seen the original start to finish, but f--k if it doesn't creep me out, even in a couple of minutes.

    I respect Julianne Moore, but when she's bad...she's f--king terrible.

    Great post!

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    1. Exactly. She was just so well suited for the part and created such an iconic performance, more importantly De Palma really had a vision there and knew what he wanted to do with the story.

      She sure is :/

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  6. I laughed when you wrote that this felt like an X-Men Movie. Maybe after the credits Professor X and Nick Fury show up to ask if they would join their club. It's sad to read that Carrie had a joy of killing people. That does not match her character at all.

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    1. I have no idea what is happening in the novel and maybe she was aware of what she is doing there, but the trance thing just works better for film versions.

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  7. Without De Palma's skill, without the great performances. From what I can tell, the Carrie remake I could happily live without :)

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    1. Yes, we all would live happily without this one :)

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  8. Ouch, this sounds terrible. I kind of expected it to be that way. I still think those shots of Moretz covered in blood walking down the street look a little ridiculous.

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    1. They really do, there was something off about the way blood looked in this movie.

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  9. This remake just sucked. Not because it was boring or anything, it's just because it never seemed to do anything with its story whatsoever. Except add on a bunch of social-media. That was pretty much it. Good review Sati. Sorry you were so bummed, gal.

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    1. It sure did :/ They really didn't bring in anything new that would even justify the existence of yet another remake.

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  10. Peirce upsets me. I don't think I've ever witnessed a director go from one extreme to the other so quickly. Boys Don't Cry is one of my favorite films of the 90's and yet her follow up, Stop Loss, was one of the worst films of the 00's. The fact that this film doesn't look much better saddens me. She had such amazing potential. What happened to her?

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    1. Maybe she just needs really, really good story for the film to shine. Carrie's story is so well known by now, plus there is De Palma's movie to compete with.

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  11. The trailer didn't show any high promises, so I really couldn't see it. Judging from your awesome review, I'm happy I didn't! Revisiting the original is a good idea- I haven't seen that in a long time!

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    1. Definitely revisit the original! It's so rewatchable.

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  12. Slam and dunk in terms of bringing this movie down - in a good way because I generally hate the idea of remakes anyway. Especially when it seems that everybody behind the project doesn't have the skills to improve it. Anyway, I'm not even planning to see Carrie because I don't like Moretz not one bit.

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    1. That one wouldn't make you like her for sure, she tried to do something here but she shouldn't have been cast in the first place.

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  13. Well this isn't exactly a massive surprise :) I think we all knew it was going to be pretty disappointing and it looks to be spot on on that front. I still want to check it out, just to compare for myself - which just shows I'm part of the problem why these things gets made! Ha :)

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    1. Haha, as long as you get it on cheap DVD or when it's on cable TV it's all right :P

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  14. You know, there was a Glee tribute scene to Carrie like a couple of weeks ago. It was pretty bad. And pointless. That's as much Neo-Carrie as I can take for now, so I'm definitely not watching this... Good review :D

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    1. Thank you :P Yeah don't waste your time on that one.

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  15. Great review. I actually liked the film, but the original is obviously WAY better. The Black Swan connection is interesting. Maybe that's why I really liked Moretz's performance. I even thought Moore did a fine job. I literally went into the film expecting nothing, and I was somehow surprised in a good way.

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    1. Thank you! I guess low expectations are a blessing :)

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  16. I honestly thought you give this one a more insane thrashing, but instead, you wrote a very accurate, very articulate review about why this film failed. Very well done.

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    1. Thank you! Yeah I just had way too many ideas about why the movie failed since it was so clearly butchered by people involved.

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  17. I did saw the original '70s Carrie and it was perfect. But I can see why casting Moretz was wrong. She's not at all weak and needs to be sympathized like Sissy Spacek. But I'll check this one out just out of curiosity. Was Julianne Moore that bad?

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    1. I thought Moore was terrible, she was miscast and she was just trying to imitate Laurie and she was not nearly as freaky and weird as she should be.

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  18. Wow ... excellent review! I haven't seen this movie yet, but you did a fantastic job of clearly explaining, point by point, why you consider this remake to be such a disaster.

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    1. Thank you! They really should just stop trying to remake all those classic films. There are reasons for which they are considered classics after all.

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  19. I think they were more obsessed about remaking this film rather than getting it right. I've felt that the relationship between Carrie and her mom could use some fleshing out in the original film. I would want to know more about Carrie's childhood, Carrie's mysterious father, etc. Instead of a remake, they should have done a reimagining, similar to the new 'Fright Night.'

    And you hit the nail on the head, Moretz is woefully miscast. She's almost too cute to play this role. You could really relate to Sissy Spacek's awkwardness in the first film, that's what made that movie. Chloe Moretz--nope!

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    1. Exactly. I was always interested about her father but I think the fact they left it a mystery makes it more fascinating and intriguing.

      Terrible casting choice, especially that there are so many wonderful young actresses that would fit the part.

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  20. Hello Sati.

    As I was reading your review, I was thinking it was a great review and how much I agree with almost every word, but also thinking that I was sure that when I got to the comments I would find some idiot that could not forgive you for admiting you had not read the book. And I did.

    You know, I wanted to contribute on the subject of the relationship between the novel and the Carrie films. Because I just wanted to say that you had the right to express every single word in this review, because you were right and you do not need to read the book to know what you're talking about in this case, if you have seen the previous versions of Carrie films. I haven't seen this one yet, but just by watching the trailer, if you've read the book, you learn this is not a reimagining of the book, but a remake of De Palma's Carrie.

    And if there are people who think you're not in the right place to write this review, well, let me back you up. I'm a Carrie fan, and I have read the book and I have seen all the filmic versions ever made, good and bad, except for this one, yet. And that's just because I'm a curious critter, but I know that Carrie only needed one film: De Palma's. After that there was no need of another one. Ever. Ever.

    De Palma's film is perfect, it's accurate and respectfull of the book, and though it may shorten the story a bit, leaving some minor parts out, and for obvious reasons too, since the novel is long and detailed (and every movie adaptation of a novel needs to shorten the story a bit or else the resulting film would be seven hours long) but it does not add any unnecesary changes. And the performances are amazing, and well... you know all the rest.

    About the part when you talk about the trance and ask yourself about it in the novel. Well, in the book, she does go into a trance. Feeling terribly angry and out of oneself, not being in complete control of one's consciousness seems to be a good magnifier for telekinesis. You need the trance, the liberation of the unconscious. That's why her powers magnify. Carrie is not completely aware of what she's doing.

    She's been told by her mother that she would be used and betrayed, she thinks everyone is against her, laughing at her. Not everyone is. But she's blinded by anger and humiliation. She doesn't reason, she doesn't plan or think or enjoy. The first person she hits is the teacher trying to help her, and she doesn't realise of that. Then she thinks only of going home and killing her mother, bringing mass destruction to the town in her way. People who meet her tell she did not react as if she was under a spell. And after all of that she finally regains control of herself to see what she has done, and a rain of rocks falls down on her house, as the day she was born. And Carrie dies burried under her house.

    The novel is amazing. There is an audiobook available, read by Sissy Spacek, the best Carrie ever, which is incredibly good because she narrates and also does all the voices, plays all the performances, all the characters. An adult and experienced Spacek manages to recreate her own performance as a young and naive Carrie, but also recreates Piper Laurie's master performance mimicking her voice and all. I can't describe how good the audiobook is. You have to download it, I promisse you, Sati, you WILL enjoy it and love it.

    I'm sorry for the length of my comment.


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    1. "About the part when you talk about the trance and ask yourself about it in the novel. Well, in the book, she does go into a trance. Feeling terribly angry and out of oneself, not being in complete control of one's consciousness seems to be a good magnifier for telekinesis. You need the trance, the liberation of the unconscious. That's why her powers magnify. Carrie is not completely aware of what she's doing."

      Natalia, I have to stop you right there for a moment. I don't want to sound rude, but I don't think you actually read the novel properly. Carrie never went into a trance during the prom massacre and town destruction -- she was well-aware of what she was doing and revelled in the chaos and destruction that she caused.

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  21. It has come to the attention of fans that there were many scenes filmed, but later dropped from the theatrical cut - many of which were also, unfortunately, not included in the Deleted/Alternate scenes on the Blu-ray release. Back in December 2012, there were a number of people who attended the first test screenings of the film and confirmed that the original cut was longer and a lot different than what we saw in theatres. Based on fan speculation, feedback from test audiences, and certain confirmed details concerning the film – the deleted and/or extended scenes include:

    - The Rain of Stones [as the original opening]

    - The White Commission [The film had integrated several courtroom scenes with witnesses giving testimonies of their experiences with Carrie White leading to the prom incident, essentially structuring the film as a series of flashbacks and recollections]

    - The found footage that had been filmed by Freddy "Beak" Holt

    - Scenes detailing more in depth character development

    - "Wipe that smile off your face" - Chris to Carrie at the pool

    - The locker room scene [extended] - Chris turning the cell-phone toward herself and the mean girls

    - Scenes involving social media - Facebook in particular: The e-mail from Chris to Donna Kellogg. "So I’m out of prom and my [censored] father says he won’t give them what they deserve."

    - Billy's wild ride [The "blowjob scene" - similar to the 1976 version]

    - Chris and Tina kiss [extended]

    - Tommy and Sue's backseat love scene [extended]

    - An interaction between Carrie and Chris outside the dress shop

    - The confrontation between Sue and the mean girls

    - Drive to the pig farm [extended]

    - Carrie levitates Margaret [extended]

    - The meaningful conversation between Miss Desjardin and Carrie at prom

    - Tommy and Carrie kissing

    - Billy kisses Chris

    - Margaret escaping from the closet and cutting herself with a knife

    - Sue tries to call Tommy from outside the school to warn him but he rejects the call

    - The prom scene as a whole which was said to be longer and more violent than the theatrical version

    - Tina on fire [extended]

    - A scene or shot revealing Erika and George's fate

    - The electrocution scene which was supposed to be more graphic and longer. In the novel, it was described as a "crazy puppet dance"

    - Carrie using her telekinetic powers to kill some of the prom survivors who are outside the school

    - The town destruction

    - Sue seeing Tommy's body being taken out on a stretcher and Miss Desjardin saying how sorry she is for what's happened

    - Margaret's original death scene which was said to be closer to the novel

    - The multiple endings

    There is an online petition for a Director’s Cut to be released, but, let’s face it, the studios won’t release one. The petition has gained over 6,000+ signatures (I think?), so I’m curious to see how that will turn out.

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