There aren't many horror movies about women, for women. It's true that most horror movies feature women as the star but virtually all of them are victims being followed and tormented by some hulking beast. Even the films where the women are the monster, such as The Exorcist, it's still an innocent little flower that is in need of help. Carrie is different. When Stephen King wrote it in 1974 and the movie came out two years later, it was something no one had seen before. It was a horror movie for women about women. That's the reason why this remake seemed like a good idea because as good as the original is, a female director could really tap into what makes this such a haunting tale for women and explode the horror on the screen in ways we've never seen. Sadly, that didn't happen.
I'm not a horror purist; I don't think that nothing can ever be remade. It's true, some horror movies are great for what they are but they're dated and could stand a dusting off. Zach Snyder's Dawn of the Dead was ballsy as hell to attempt a remake but they pulled it off in spades. Alexandre Aja's The Hills Have Eyes was one of the best remakes I think I've seen considering that the original of that feels hokey now. But if you're gonna remake a classic horror film you better have a damn good reason for doing it. This remake of Carrie did and it totally makes sense why it should have been remade.
Modernizing the story not only made sense but was insanely appropriate right now. Bullying is a huge buzz topic and the rise of the Internet has made it so much easier. All of that is covered in Carrie, such as the infamous "tampon scene" in this 2013 version is video taped on a cell phone and then uploaded to YouTube to make the humiliation so much bigger than it ever could have been in 1976. But simply remolding the story slightly to fit the times can't be all you do. You have to raise the stakes in the carnage, the horror, the performances; you should remake Carrie to be the disturbing statement of religious fanatacism as well as blind vengence that it was always meant to be. That was entirely missed in this failed recreation.
I had hopes that director Kimberly Peirce was going to hit a homerun with this. She's no slouch and known for her gritty films like Stop-Loss and Boys Don't Cry. She's not afraid of making a film that shines a light on parts of our culture that are ugly and hard to swallow. So why didn't she with Carrie? Brian De Palma (Scarface, Mission: Impossible) is a great director and his 1976 version is intense and unflinching; but he's a dude. Surely, a woman would be able to tell this story about a mother and her daughter much better. Right? Or does having that expectation make me a bit of a sexist?
Regardless, Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) are both wonderful actresses but neither come anywhere close to that eeriy magic that Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek had 37-years-ago. What is a horrific story about what happens when you push a girl with magic powers too far is reduced to really sad story about what happsn when you push a girl with magic powers too far. Yes, Carrie is a sad story but all that sadness is suppose to be washed away when the telekenisis hits the fan. I remember looking forward to those a-holes in Carrie's school getting what was coming to them but when it comes you feel sorry that her rage punishes everyone, even those that treated her kindly. Some of that is changed for this version and it takes away a large part of the terror. If you want to see this wonderful story done correctly, rent the original on Netflix and watch it with the lights off.