By Sandra Kraisirideja
Director Kimberly Peirce has created an update of the 1976 horror classic “Carrie” that honors the original and makes the story more current.
Based on the 1974 novel by Stephen King, “Carrie” is the tragic story of an insecure, timid young woman raised by her emotionally and physically abusive mother who is also a religious zealot. Mercilessly teased by classmates at her high school, Carrie begins to discover she has telekinetic powers in the last few months of her senior year. In response to a horrific prank played by a vindictive classmate, Carrie unleashes the full power of her ability on the night of her high school prom.
Peirce’s choices make the movie more relevant and entertaining to teenagers today. Credit also goes to screenwriter Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa who understands how teenagers have become more sophisticated and unapologetic in their cruelty. Lawrence D. Cohen, who first adapted the King’s novel for the 1976 film, is also credited as some of the dialogue from his script remains.
First, a breakdown of the main differences between the 1976 “Carrie” and the 2013 “Carrie.” Brian De Palma directed the 1976 version, which starred Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt, John Travolta, and Nancy Allen.
The 2013 version stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie, Julianne Moore as her deranged mother, and Gabriella Wilde, Ansel Elgort, Portia Doubleday, and Alex Russell as her tormentors and victims.
Both Moretz and Moore are good but their performances stick fairly close to the way Spacek and Laurie played their characters, but Moretz is slightly more assertive than Spacek.
The 2013 script by Aguirre-Sacasa adds in more elements from King’s novel and ramps up Carrie’s mistreatment by her classmates through cyberbullying. The teens in Peirce’s movie are also more vindictive, entitled and disrespectful of authority than the teenagers in the 1976 version.
Whereas the 1976 version had full-frontal nudity, the 2013 version has more explicit teen sex. Strangely, the nudity isn’t as discomforting as the teens doing it in the back of a Jeep.
Sadly, the adults in the 2013 version also reflect a more modern definition. The parents are self-absorbed and oblivious to their children’s misdeeds and school administrators have little influence over the students or have a clue as to what is happening.
Peirce doesn’t cover any new ground with the special effects deployed in the big action sequence at the prom and De Palma’s version is still much better.
Aside from the prom massacre, Peirce’s direction is solid and her handling of the special effects and action sequences shows her range.