Directed by Kimberly Pierce
Over the course of the weekend, “Carrie” became the highest-grossing movie of 2013 directed by a woman. It didn’t take much, considering it’s only the 85th highest-grossing overall. That’s right, the 84 top-grossing movies of 2013 have all been directed by men. What’s almost as sickening as that fact is what director Kimberly Pierce does with her “Carrie” remake. She transfers the same great story from Stephen King’s novel and the 1976 Brian DePalma movie, but with it makes a mock-“Final Destination”-meets-“Paranormal Activity” sort of spectacle free of many horrors. Instead of focusing on the haunting family drama or social commentary on bullying or religious zeal, Pierce tries to make a visual spectacle. And she does, but at the expense of developing any characters that we really want to root for. Carrie doesn’t talk much, and doesn’t do much to get us on her side.She’s bullied, both in-person and online, but Chloe Grace-Moretz (“Hugo“) overacts to the point where we don’t feel much sympathy. It all seems unrealistic, even before the telekinesis. Her teachers either laugh at her or treat her like a young child, and her principal forgets her name. Her classmates are all driven to be cruel or kind by what they feel will benefit their own selfish desires, to make themselves feel dominant or to make themselves feel good for throwing Carrie a bone. Are there any morally good characters? Not really. But at least Mama White (Julianne Moore) is bad enough that we remember her. Moore is perfectly cast to play the religious zealot mother that abuses herself and her “little girl” as she misquotes the Bible to meet her own conservative standards. She’s a far stretch from her lesbian mom role in “The Kids Are All Right” (but maybe not that far from Sarah Palin in “Game Change”).
The story picks up when prom prep begins, but when the pig blood drops, all that splatters is crimson disappointment. Visual effects have definitely gotten better in the past 40 years, but perhaps not the way we have utilized the SFX capabilities we have. Pierce makes the gymnasium look hauntingly beautiful, but when we begin to see Carrie’s bullies being killed off, I start to lose hope. Bloody, slow-motion, “Final Destination”-like deaths litter the screen. Pierce almost assumes we can’t use our imagination to picture the gruesome deaths for ourselves. Thankfully, the bloody and symbolic final scenes are more true-to-form. That’s what I remember about 1976’s “Carrie,” and I was happy to see Mama White get what was coming to her. Even so, a fantastic final scene can’t make up for a weak beginning, especially when you’re trying to out-do a cult classic. If you’re not first, you’re last.