Moretz emits the aura of an abused animal, brimming with volatile quantities of fear and anger.
Review by David Feltman
“I thought you were cancer.”
Out of fear of facing an opening weekend showdown with a franchise juggernaut like “Saw” or “Paranormal Activity,” most horror movies have been pushed into September releases. Even with “Paranormal Activity 5” being bumped back to 2014, the “Carrie” remake is the only horror movie with the moxie to attempt an October release this year. It even bucks the audience grubbing PG-13 trend for an R rating (a soft R, but R nonetheless).
As welcome as “Carrie” is in this unseasonal horror drought, it’s really more of an update than a remake. With the exception of the signature De Palma split-screens, Kimberly Pierce’s “Carrie” is a slavishly, shot for shot remake of the ’76 classic. Sure there are modern references to Tim Tebow, “Dancing with the Stars,” and cyber bullying, but there are zero new additions to the plot. What Pierce does offer in way of a new experience is in the execution. Pierce strips the De Palma script of most of its playful corniness in favor of starker drama. The cheesy porno score, the soft focus shots in the girl’s locker room and the comically sped up exchanges are all gone, with the “getting ready for prom” montage as the film’s lone kitschy remnant.
Chloe Grace Moretz looks like she was cast on the wrong side of the mean girl clique, but she embodies Sissy Spacek’s awkwardness with every mannerism. Her savage “fish out of water” performance in “Kick Ass 2” feels like a dry run for her work here. Beyond her slouching, self-conscious body language, ratty hair and lack of makeup, Moretz emits the aura of an abused animal, brimming with volatile quantities of fear and anger. Even as she cowers in a corner, there’s always a threatening glint in her eye. Julianne Moore, however, goes full tilt bonkers as Carrie’s mother, and she couldn’t be more entertaining. Whether muttering to herself like a possessed zealot, beating Moretz over the head with a Bible or cutting herself in public, Moore owns every scene she’s in.
There are a couple of plot holes (seriously Sue, you just texted your boyfriend two minutes ago, why can’t you text him again instead of driving all the way to the school?), but nothing too far outside of the realm of suspended belief. Pierce cranks up the gruesomeness in the film’s big finale. And while the final kill is more gratuitous and satisfying, Pierce fails to capture De Palma’s apocalyptic vibe. “Carrie” is a fun, if flawed, update for this Halloween season. It’s also the only game in town.