Well, no one ever said, with any authority at least, that plagiarism wasn’t profitable. There have been countless remakes produced in the last decade, mostly in the horror genre, which have more than made back the cost of their creation. If not, would Hollywood continue to do it?
And here, you’re either in one of three or even four camps. You can be a fan of the book, of the original film, of both, or neither, most likely down youth or ignorance.
It’s fairly safe to say that Brian De Palma’s ‘Carrie’ did justice with deference in 1976 to an original written work as well as any grisly horror movie had done at the time. The by now well-thumbed story, known to most fans of the genre, it could reasonably be claimed, is one of the great modern horror stories of the late twentieth century.
Concerning itself with, should a synopsis really be required (where have you been?) the ugly blossoming into womanhood of an awkward teenager surrounded by confident peers in her school is a common staple on screen in modern times, but this was not such an everyday topic to be approached when De Palma ventured into the dark recesses of Stephen King’s imagination.
Carrie White, the awkward teenager in question, has a secret however. She has telekinetic powers. She may be the black sheep of her class and the butt of horrible treatment that only children could be cruel enough to deliver, but she also has a religious fanatic for a mother. Her life is a nightmare, frankly. Abuse, bullying and fear at school and, well, pretty much the same when she gets home too.
It’s a wonder she didn’t ‘pop’ sooner.
This adaptation of another movie of a book comes across as just that. There are just too many hurdles to get over. You have to be better than the memory of the admittedly and rightly lauded original film, which was already playing catch-up with the inarguable quality of King’s storytelling. So, if this is the case, then why even bother? Kimberly Peirce is on a hiding to nothing with the reactionary direction here, trying to live up to (and perhaps even attempt to improve upon) De Palma’s already revered version of events.
It may be nearly forty years after the fact, but at least some of the audience will remember this the first time around, with John Travolta goose-stepping around a pigsty and drippy psychopath Sissy Spacek scaring the bejeezus out of the entire cinema with just the hint of a determined stare.
Chloe Grace Moretz, at first glance, seems like a perfect fit for the wronged young woman with plans of bloody revenge, but this is more from her appearance than her demeanour. It may be that her previous roles are being dragged around with her, but despite the best efforts of Peirce to make her look a bit dippy and helpless, she doesn’t ever seem to be quite as socially or mentally impotent as required. Spacek’s lank and pointless whimpering made the audience both loathe and feel sorry for her. Yes, she truly was lost. We don’t ever get that same abandonment issue feel here.
In short, Peirce’s version of Carrie lacks weight. This is not surprising given that any originality is pointless and if we’re honest, so is the film itself. Yes, it may well make back its production costs, but this income will come from a very different audience that appreciated De Palma’s vision of King’s story all those years ago.
The supernatural wonder that came with De Palma has long since lost its lustre and allure for a demographic older than its years and this will seem tame by comparison to some of its cinematic peers and rightly so, as this feels like a toned down remake for a dumbed down audience. Where De Palma brought us King for the screen, Peirce brings us Carrie ‘lite’, a diluted, caffeine-free version of De Palma’s original intent, far less a convincing re-telling of King’s original classic.