Carrie Could Make You See Red
- Christian Hamaker Contributing Film and Culture Writer
- 2013 18 Oct
DVD Release Date: January 14, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: October 18, 2013
Run Time: 100 min.
Director: Kimberly Peirce
Actors: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday, Ansel Elgort, Alex Russell
Does this sound familiar? Budding young star Chloe Grace Moretz gives the lead performance in a remake of a highly regarded horror classic that ends in a scene where her character unleashes horrendous carnage.
Maybe you've heard the latest version of Carrie fits that description, but it also fits the 2010 Moretz vehicle Let Me In, an update of Let the Right One In (2008), a Swedish film about a bullied young boy and the vampire who befriends him.
Since then, Moretz has starred in higher-profile controversial films like Kick-A--, its sequel and Hugo, the latter two being commercial underperformers. The chances that the young actress will finally have a breakout hit seem stronger with Carrie, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name. The original adaptation, directed by Brian De Palma in 1976, starred Sissy Spacek as an adolescent girl raised in fear and ignorance by a mother (Piper Laurie, nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for this role) who twisted Scripture to justify shielding her daughter from the facts of life.
This update follows the same basic storyline. Carrie White is a loner, the kind of girl who has to be coaxed by her gym teacher, Ms. Desjardin (Judy Greer, The Descendants), to participate in class. Afterward, while showering, Carrie screams in concern when she menstruates for the first time. Raised by an unstable mother who sees her daughter as the result of wickedness, Carrie is, until that moment, ignorant of how the female body changes during puberty. Her screams and fears are captured by amused, taunting classmates who record the episode on video and post it online.
Desjardin becomes Carrie's advocate, comforting her while also punishing the classmates who hurt her, specifically Chris (Portia Doubleday, Youth in Revolt) and Sue (Gabriella Wilde). Sue feels remorse for her actions, but Chris refuses to apologize or admit wrongdoing. Her lack of repentance earns her a suspension that prevents her from attending prom. Sue, still regretting her involvement in Carrie's embarrassment, prompts her boyfriend, Tommy (Ansel Elgort), to ask Carrie to the prom.
Her teacher's intervention on her behalf, combined with Tommy's seemingly genuine interest in Carrie, begins to change the girl's recessive, reluctant personality. Along with the recognition that others care about her comes Carrie's increasing resistance to the attempts of her mother (Julianne Moore, Don Jon) to shield her from the outside world and, especially, from the opposite sex.
There's another aspect of Carrie's personality that's coming to the fore: her telekinetic powers. She doesn't call on any deity or spiritual being to exercise these powers; instead, they manifest in moments of anger and rage. Carrie struggles to control those outbursts, whether toward the school principal, an obnoxious neighborhood boy or her own mother.
The story's memorable climax involves an act of cruelty that leads Carrie to unleash her fury against her classmates, and it's in that extended sequence that director Kimberly Peirce (Stop-Loss) gives this Carrie its most vivid, hard-to-forget moments and images.
But is that enough? The finale is bloody and impressive, but it amounts to little more than an outpouring of uncontrolled rage and fury. Those elements of Carrie's personality are clearly condemned in Scripture (for example, Proverbs 29:11 and James 1:19-20), even if we feel sympathy for a young girl who's unable to control herself. The finale of Carrie is an extended outburst of retaliation against those who have wronged her.
The 1976 version's lush visuals, moody score and use of split screen made De Palma's Carrie a remarkable cautionary tale about teenage cruelty, female empowerment and religious fanaticism. It also depicted telekinetic powers without explaining them or condemning the manifestation of Carrie's supernatural abilities. Peirce's version of Carrie leaves us with an image of a young girl whose inability to control her budding power threatens to destroy everything she cares about—herself included. It's a sad story, one in which the only gratification comes in seeing the title character get even with those who have wronged her. That leaves Peirce's Carrie spiritually arid and, for most of its running time, visually dull, no matter how much blood is spilled during its final half hour.
Depending on your tolerance for blood, rage and the dangers of a "Christian" upbringing, Carrie may make you see red in more ways than one.
- Language/Profanity: Lord's name taken in vain; s-word; d-ck; the f-word; d-mn; crude references to the male anatomy
- Drinking/Smoking: None
- Sex/Nudity: Carrie is shown in a shower—no nudity, but she begins to have her period and reaches out with bloody hands; students throw tampons at Carrie; students kiss passionately; female students shown in their underwear; boys simulate oral sex; two teens have sex in a car—no nudity shown; Chris says her friend booked her prom-night hotel room and is practicing the noises she'll make during sex
- Violence/Crime: A home birth; bloody sheets; a teacher slaps Carrie, who has become hysterical; Carrie uses telekenetic powers to tamper with an office water bottle, cause a boy to crash on his bike, and to levitate furniture, objects and people; Carrie's mom wounds herself while interacting with customers at her workplace; Carrie's mom bangs her head against a wall at home and harms herself physically when frustrated; pig's blood is dumped on a prom king and queen; the bucket strikes a boy and kills him; Carrie's rampage kills numerous people, including cutting one boy in half and forcing others to have car accidents; a character is stabbed; another is impaled with several sharp objects
- Religion/Morals/Marriage: Crosses on a wall; an open Bible on the stairs; religious images; crucifixes; a cross necklace; a teacher tells Carrie that what her classmates did to her was unforgivable; Carrie’s mom believes her daughter was conceived in sin, and she speaks of the "sin of intercourse"; she accuses Carrie of having sin-filled thoughts, but Carrie counters that it's her mom who sinned; Carrie is forced into a literal prayer closet; blood drips from a crucifix; Carrie's mom tells a customer at her workplace, "These are godless times"; Carrie is called a witch, and the devil is said to have gotten hold of her; her mom is seen reading the Bible; the Lord's Prayer is said; Carrie has supernatural powers she believes run in her family
Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication date: October 18, 2013