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Movie Review: ‘Carrie’

by Bob Garver

Oct. 21, 2013. “Carrie” tells the story of a teenager who goes on a killing spree at her school. Since we see her get bullied, we’re supposed to feel sympathy for her. The film seems to have an attitude that even though she does a bad thing, that doesn’t make her a bad person. I say that anyone who murders classmates in cold blood is a bad person. 

The film is of course a remake of the 1976 film starring Sissy Spacek, itself adapted from a novel by Stephen King. Chloe Grace Moretz plays Carrie White, and while her acting skills are certainly up to snuff, it probably wasn’t the best decision to cast such an established starlet in the role. She epitomizes the often-mocked cliche of the undesirable outcast who just has to fix up her hair and makeup and she looks beautiful.

Carrie’s mother Margaret is played by Julianne Moore, and boy does she make me miss Piper Laurie from the 1976 version. She’s a religious zealot, the religion being a brand of Christianity pretty much invented by her. She tortures Carrie with these beliefs and Julianne Moore tortures us with her acting. The character is written so over-the-top that the scariest way to play her is straight. But along comes that scenery-gnasher Moore, who adds to many embellishments that she manages to be the least believable thing in a movie about a girl with telekinesis.

Carrie is harassed at home and at school, where she’s humiliated during an incident in the girls’ locker room. The gym teacher (Judy Greer, one of my favorite actresses who nevertheless has no chance of making sense of this character) punishes the girls who bullied her, but at no point does she encourage them to reach out to her and maybe not bully her for the right reasons. The girls just  want to get back at Carrie even worse, especially Chris (Portia Doubleday) who defies the punishment and gets banned from prom as a result. Sue (Gabriella Wilde) feels sorry for Carrie, so sorry that she convinces her boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Egort) to invite the ugly duckling to prom.

Carrie is at once scared, overjoyed and several different kinds of confused. She knows it’s probably a trick to set up further humiliation, but hopes against hope that it isn’t. She doesn’t know what to do around a boy, or even other girls for that matter. Her mom promises to interfere even before she verbally promises to interfere, but a little help from some newfound telekinetic abilities can take care of that. She goes to prom knowing that it’s her social do or die time. As it turns out, its more of a do, die or kill time.

The film is billed as a horror movie, but the last quarter of the movie isn’t really scary, just violent. Your monsters are Chloe Grace and Julianne Moore and realistically, how scary can they be.? The only time the climactic sequences approach terror is when someone gets ahold of something sharp that is scary in and of itself. And even then their edge is taken away by dicey special effects. Plus they’re further dulled by choppy editing. My apologies for not working “cleave” in there somewhere.

Poor quality aside, it’s the very idea of the killing scenes that I find most offensive. The minute Carrie starts harming people who mean no harm to her, she loses all sympathy from me. Real-life killers often have a history of abuse, but do we relish in their revenge, especially if they aren’t targeting the individuals who abused them? No, we think that it’s a shame they were abused, but that doesn’t make them any less horrible people. At the end of the film, it’s supposedly the ignorant people who still think of Carrie as a freak. I know Carrie’s story, I’ve considered the evidence and I’ve decided she’s a freak.

One star out of five.