Monday, October 13, 2014

Halloween Movie Month: Carrie

Carrie (2013)
Netflix instant

The 2013 Carrie remake follows pretty much the exact same plot line as the original - an awkward teen with an overly religious mother is tormented at school until she discovers that she has telekinetic powers.  Since the remake follows so closely to the original, and since I just watched the original a week ago, it is unavoidable that this review will be more of a comparison between the two.  As a result, most of my comments will be direct responses to what I liked (and didn't like) from the original.

One of my complaints with the original was that there was such a stark dichotomy between the excessive religiosity of Carrie's mother and the evil of Chris Hargensen.  In the original, there was no balance between evil and zealot.  While I understand the literary and thematic reasons for having those extremes, I still did not like how there was no middle ground.  In the 2013 version, Carrie herself is presented as that middle ground.  She still has a very strong sense of religiosity, but in the first interaction between Carrie and her mother, Carrie corrects her mother by telling her that what she (the mother) is saying is not from the Bible.  While I do like that there is a middle ground that is being presented, I actually don't think that it works very well for that middle ground to be Carrie.  In the original, Sissy Spacek play awkward, underdeveloped, and tormented so well - it makes sense that she would act the way she does as a result of being raised alone by her religious zealot mother.  In the 2013 version, Carrie starts out a little too confident.  She almost seems too "normal" to have been raised in such an environment.  Something else that helped to bring some balance was the portrayal of Carrie's mother having some psychological issues (several scenes of her cutting herself), rather than just being portrayed as overly religious.

As far as the evil of Chris, I actually think that the original portrayal showed more evil.  Sure, the remake has her cutting the throat of the pig to gather the blood for the infamous prom scene.  But, there seems to be hesitation.  She doesn't seem as confidently and immediately as malicious.  Although she did not actually touch the pig in the original, the sense of pleasure that she exhibited during the killing of the pig appeared to me to be much more immediate and intense.  In other words, even though she killed the pig, it didn't seem to me like she enjoyed it all that much.  Whereas in the original, even though she did not kill the pig, she seemed to enjoy it terribly.

One of my biggest complaints about the original is that it spent too much time with the side story of what the other girls were planning to do with Carrie, rather than on Carrie's actual story.  The 2013 version definitely showed a lot more character development of Carrie, as well as a lot more interaction between Carrie and her mother.  Even though I think that Carrie started out a little too normal, I am very glad that there was more of the movie actually showing her character development.

In the original, I felt as though much of the music was almost too descriptive.  In the remake, there was more of a unified theme running throughout the score.  However, there was nothing that really made it stand out.  So, although it was unified, it became more of just a forgettable background soundtrack.  Also, there was a bit too much foreshadowing.  This would have been fine if there had been a few more drastic differences between the original and the remake.  However, since the remake stuck so closely to the script of the original, it was less of foreshadowing and more of "you already know what's about to happen, but we are going to give a little nod to that."

I think that Chloe Grace Moretz is an amazing actor and I think that she definitely brought a lot of respect to the role, while also making the character her own.  However, Sissy Spacek's portrayal of a tormented teen is just so iconic - it's hard to top it!  In the original, Sissy Spacek's portrayal of Carrie at the end of the prom scene is so disturbingly creepy because it seems as though she has lost control and is almost comatose with her powers.  She stands completely still, eyes as wide as they can be, and simply looks at the objects to control them.  In the remake, the horror is a bit more visual.  Chloe Grace Moretz portrays Carrie as having much more control and intention with her powers.  She moves around more and is more interactive with her powers.  Rather than simply flipping Chris's car when she is about to be run over, Carrie actually seeks out Chris and her boyfriend.  A lot more deaths are actually shown, but that doesn't make it any less creepy.  It just plays more on the gruesomeness of death, rather than the psychological horror of it.  This is especially clear in the final scene.  One of the things that was so haunting to me, and one of the things that I loved so much about the original, was that it showed the after-effects of Sue losing her mind as a result of seeing so many of her friends die.  In the remake, she does not appear to have any lasting effects of witnessing such a trauma.

Rating/Recommendation:  3/5.  There are some things that I think the remake definitely improved upon.  However, there were a lot of decisions that I felt were missteps and that did not work as well as the original.  I still really enjoyed Carrie (2013) and I would definitely watch it again.  The remake had more development of Carrie and her mother, and there was more death and destruction in the prom scene.  But, the original was just so much creepier and had much more psychological horror at the end - especially in the way that Sissy Spacek played that terrified terror.  I think that the 2013 version is still enjoyable and is worth adding to your queue.  However, if I were to show Carrie to someone who had never seen it before, I would most definitely go with the original version.

Be sure to check back soon for more reviews in Halloween Movie Month!  In the meantime, leave comments on this (or any other) review, follow me here and on twitter (@GargyleReviews), and let me know what movies you'd like for me to review for Halloween Movie Month!

- The Gargyle

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