Directed by: Kimberly Peirce

Starring:  Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde

Generally, I am not a fan of remakes because they usually end up being a less interesting copycat of an original concept.  The story of Carrie, in particular, has been told numerous times via Stephen King’s novel and multiple film and theatrical adaptations.  However, with Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce at the helm, this Carrie adaptation shines on its own.  The film is particularly timely given Rebecca Sedwick’s recent suicide and so many other real life bullying nightmares in the news.

Margaret White (Julianne Moore) is a devout, religious psychopath.  She somehow gives birth to a baby girl, and almost kills the newborn as an abomination.  Margaret decides to keep her child and live simply and shielded from society.  Margaret initially home schools her daughter Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz).   Margaret is strict, and forces Carrie to pray in a prayer closet when she does something wrong (think Harry Potter’s room under the steps).  Margaret also expects her to be covered from head to toe at all times and refers to Carrie’s breasts as “dirty pillows.”

The state forces Margaret to put Carrie in public school when Carrie reaches a certain age. Carrie attends the local high school and is a social pariah.  She is poor, her clothes are homely, her hair is scraggly and she is painfully shy.  Carrie simply wants to fade into the background and go unnoticed.

Carrie’s life takes a turn for the worse, however, when she gets her period while showering in the girl’s locker room after gym class.  Her insane mother has not told her about menstruation so she freaks out and thinks she is dying.  Instead of helping her, the girls in her class mock her, and throw tampons at her while shouting “plug it up.”  Mean girl Chris (Portia Doubleday) records the incident on her phone and posts it online.  Needless to say, the entire school laughs and jeers at Carrie as a freak. 

Popular girl Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) feels badly about what happened to Carrie, and wants to make amends.  She decides to have her boyfriend Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) take Carrie to the prom.  Chris, however, is bitter and spiteful after being suspended for what she did to Carrie in the girl’s locker room, and has plans to humiliate Carrie at the prom.  Unbeknownst to everyone though, Carrie has discovered that she has telekinetic powers and can control objects with her mind.  Sue, Chris and Carrie collide at a prom no one will ever forget.

Director Peirce tells a haunting and terrifying tale in the film Carrie.  There are two overarching plotlines in the film: the dysfunctional and horrific relationship between Margaret and Carrie and the bullying and mean spirited conduct that Carrie must face at school.  The mother-daughter relationship between Margaret and Carrie is twisted, sick and scary.  Julianne Moore is simply phenomenal as Margaret.  Moore displays religious fervor with such zeal and determined insanity that it is almost difficult to watch her.  Kudos to Moore for “committing to the crazy.”  Moretz adeptly handles sharing the screen with Moore and conveys the angst, the fear, and ultimately the rage of a daughter raised in an abusive, oppressive environment.   The scenes between the two are compelling and haunting on multiple levels.

The original Carrie was released in 1976, so clearly bullying has been around forever.  However, the internet and smartphones have taken bullying to new heights as harassment can be taped and then posted online for the masses.  Interestingly enough, when I used to watch high school movies that had some random bully that was inexplicably evil, I used to think it was overkill.  But now, there are so many videos on youtube or on the news of real life harassment on buses, at school, etc., that a story like Carrie with truly horrible people doing horrible things is much more believable.  There is a message in this horror film—you can only push a person so far.

Carrie earns a .06% rating.  The subject matter of the film is current and with Kimberly Peirce at the helm, the complexities of this tragic story are handled beautifully.  With stellar acting from Moore and Moretz, the 2013 Carrie is compelling and at times truly unsettling.