Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scary Movie Month, Day 26

Carrie (2013)

Earlier this week on the always excellent F This Movie! podcast, the equally always excellent Adam Riske referred to this movie as "X-Men Origins: Carrie" and he's absolutely right. When shit goes down at the prom (spoiler?) Carrie floats around and poses like she's a silver wig and bad toad joke away from being Halle Berry in the X-Men movies. As they said in the podcast, this time around Carrie has much greater control over her telekinetic powers than she did in the original movie (or in Stephen King's novel, for that matter) and frankly that's a decision that thoroughly deflates the movie.

I don't think that remaking Carrie is a bad idea. I think there's a lot that the story of Carrie can say about our current culture of viral videos, bullying, and school violence. This version, with a screenplay credited to Larry Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (who adapted King's epic novel The Stand for a 35-part Marvel comics series) touches on those things, but they're only so much window dressing on an otherwise slavish adaptation of Brian De Palma's version of Carrie.

King wrote a novella called Apt Pupil, another story of a high school outcast (though a more purposefully malevolent one than Carrie White) that culminates in an event of tremendous, tragic violence. When Apt Pupil was adapted for the movies, the ending was significantly altered, removing the violence while staying somewhat true to the nihilistic tone of the original story. When King was asked how he felt about the change, he said he was glad for it because if they had kept the ending from the novella it would have been "the wrong kind of movie". This adaptation of Carrie borders on being the wrong the kind of movie. By making Carrie more of an aggressor and less of a victim it feels uncomfortably close to a movie about a school shooting that tries to get the audience on the side of the shooter.

It's not all bad, Chloe Grace Moretz is decent in the lead (I wonder if some of the poses she takes as she wreaks havoc are her own choices or those of director Kimberly Pierce) and the unfortunately named Ansel Elgort stands out as the kind-hearted Tommy Ross. Most of the other performances range from decent to forgettable, the only one who registers at outright bad, unfortunately, is Julianne Moore as Margaret White, Carrie's domineering mother. While it's good that she's not aping Piper Laurie's Academy Award-nominated performance from the original she just never manages to bring Margaret to life in any way, she never feels like anything more than a fictional character.

It's not a terrible movie by any means, but by that same token it's a movie that really has no reason to exist. While they're not all gonna laugh at it, it's a disappointment at best.

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