Carrie: Solid, but unspectacular reboot’s saving Grace is Moretz’s performance

Carrie: Solid, but unspectacular reboot’s saving Grace is Moretz’s performance

Alongside The ExorcistAlien, The Omen and JawsCarrie was one of the seminal horror movies of the 1970s.

Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of Stephen King’s first novel borrowed heavily from Hitchcock (Bernard Herrmann’s Psycho score even gets an airing) and its bold, visceral visuals were backed up by a pair of terrific Oscar- nominated performances by Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek.

Its mix of nudity, strong female protagonist and “shock” ending also set a template for horror films that would last for the next three decades.

n 2013, after a pointless sequel, a failed TV pilot and a truly awful musical, Hollywood decided to return to the trials of telekinetic teenager Carrie White by reinterpreting horror’s Maine man’s masterwork for a new generation.

Many people, at the time, asked “why bother?”, and they have a point, but in an age of instant gratification and social media (even more so almost a decade on), what is essentially a tale of high school bullying and revenge (albeit supernaturally backed) has never been more relevant.

The producers also deserve credit for casting actual teens (unlike the original, where most of the high school “seniors” should have already graduated university) in the main roles. Having proved her ability beyond her years with roles in Kick Ass and Let Me In, a then 16-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz delivered another tough, yet vulnerable performance as Carrie, while Julianne Moore (Hannibal) is suitably angst-ridden and creepy as her hell-fearing mother, Margaret.

Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz play mother and daughter in Carrie.
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Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz play mother and daughter in Carrie.

There’s also a terrifically understated performance by Judy Greer (The Descendants) as Carrie’s kind PE teacher, Ms Desjardin. Her character’s name’s reinstatement to that of the novel (she was called Ms Collins in De Palma’s version) is one of many changes taken to bring the story closer to its source (although understandably it is still not told in its epistolary style).

But while a lot of the updates for Millennials make sense (interestingly one of the writers – Stephen King-specialist Lawrence D Cohen – also worked on the 1976 screenplay), the locker-room primness (clearly designed to get a lower censorship classification in the US) seems completely out of kilter with modern mores and similarly teen-targeted movies and shows like last year’s Cruel Summer and I Know What You Did Last Summer.

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