I suppose not all remakes are bad (just most of them), but it’s particularly dicey to make a remake that features an iconic character.
For example, you wouldn’t make a Rocky remake without Sly Stallone. You’d be a fool to make a Chinatown remake with someone besides Jack Nicholson.
And you can’t make a remake of Brian De Palma’s horror classic Carrie remake with anyone other than Sissy Spacek.
The image of Spacek’s Carrie at the prom, her ghostly-white, tremulous, freckled face and strawberry blonde hair streaked with blood, is ingrained in our collective consciousness.
Nothing against Chloe Grace-Moretz, the smart young actress cast as Carrie in Kimberly Peirce’s remake. I happen to like her, even if I think she’s a bit too sturdy for the part. That’s besides the point. She’s never going to erase the image of Spacek’s Carrie. So why even bother?
And here’s another argument against this remake: A whole lot has changed since 1976. Today, in our post-[Name Your Unthinkable School Tragedy Here] era, the idea of a young girl, bullied at school, exacting a bloody and supernatural revenge on her classmates, has a different, more real-world resonance than it did 37 years ago. Of course, it’s fine for a horror film to take on the grim realities of the day—as long as it’s doing so mindfully. One doesn’t really get the sense that Peirce thoughtfully considered this shift in context.
For that matter, a few more nods to the new realities of high school life would have gone a long way. Yes, the mean girl at school (Portia Doubleday) takes a smartphone video of Carrie’s notorious humiliation in the gym locker room (she’s so sheltered, she doesn’t know what’s happening when she gets her first period), but this feels like a token addition. Social media is not really a factor in this story at all. Shows a lack of creativity by the screenwriters, if you ask me.
So what does work? Well, the gruesome opening scene—a marvelous bit of horror bait and switch that I won’t share here—had me giggling gleefully. I also loved Julianne Moore in the Piper Laurie role as Carrie’s devil-fearing, self-mutilating mother. Any time Julianne Moore gets to play unhinged, I’m happy.
Besides that, if you haven’t seen the original, you’ll probably like Carrie well enough. I’m a fan of Peirce’s work (I liked both her Boy’s Don’t Cry and the underrated Stop-Loss). I just want her stop remaking classics, okay?