Brian DePalma’s 1976 film “Carrie,” based on Stephen King’s 1974 novel, is such an iconic horror classic that I was hoping the new Kimberly Peirce remake would represent an entirely new rethinking – or else why bother?
DePalma’s movie was a frightful piece of japery about a teenager, played by Sissy Spacek, whose first menstruation, about which her schoolmates relentlessly hound her, is linked to her discovery that she is telekinetic. Raised by a Christian fundamentalist single mother, played by Piper Laurie, Carrie’s initiation into womanhood and sexuality turns into a literal bloodbath on prom night.
Peirce doesn’t have DePalma’s dirty-minded adolescent temperament or his voluptuous sense of dread. Her film, starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie and Julianne Moore as her mother, is more straightforward in its shocks. Although bullying in schools is a more pronounced issue now than it was back in the '70s, DePalma’s film certainly didn’t play down its “Mean Girls” aspect.
By focusing on Carrie’s rabid desire for vengeance in the wake of the prom, Peirce has made a girl-power version of the King material. But the finale is truncated and the final image is a tired frisson promising a sequel. Peirce is gifted, but she lacks the ability of directors like DePalma to transform schlock into something deeply personal. Grade B- (Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content.)