Carrie – film review

It’s perhaps fitting that the horror genre cannibalises classics of bygone decades and churns out glossy remakes to sate the bloodlust of new generations.

In the last five years alone, Evil Dead, Friday The 13th, Fright Night, I Spit On Your Grave, The Last House On The Left and A Nightmare On Elm Street have all been resurrected to varying degrees of mediocrity.

So it’s no surprise that the seminal 1976 thriller, based on Stephen King’s brilliantly crafted story of an outcast schoolgirl who discovers she possesses devastating telekinetic powers, should be given some 21st-century spit and polish.

Award-winning feminist director Kimberly Peirce, who shepherded Hilary Swank to her first Oscar in the harrowing true story Boys Don’t Cry, is an intelligent and intriguing choice for the remake.

She often forges strong emotional bonds to her female protagonists and has charted many of Carrie’s underlying themes – sexual awakening, religious fervour, revenge and retribution – in her earlier work.

Unfortunately, working within the confines of Lawrence D Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s script that slavishly follows King’s text and the superior 1976 film, Peirce is powerless to embellish the narrative with her own insights or brio.

All that distinguishes the two incarnations is the inclusion of video sharing as a means of bullying the titular character and a miasma of digital effects in the pivotal prom night sequence.

Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a shrinking violet, who has been sheltered from the harsh realities of the world by her religiously zealous mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore).

One afternoon after swimming class, Carrie gets her first period and classmates including Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) and Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) cruelly turn on Carrie in the shower, recording the young woman’s distress on their smartphones.

While Sue subsequently feels pangs of guilt for her actions, Chris is unrepentant and is expelled by sympathetic gym teacher Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer). The uncaring vixen then plots spectacular revenge on Carrie with the help of bad boy beau, Billy Nolan (Alex Russell).

Meanwhile, Sue plans to atone for her sins by foregoing the forthcoming prom so that her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), can take Carrie instead.

“When you turn up to prom with Carrie White on your arm, don’t you think you’re going to look the tiniest bit ridiculous?” Miss Desjardin asks Tommy.

Unperturbed, Tommy proceeds, determined that Carrie will have a wonderful night.

Distinguished by committed performances from Moretz and Moore, Carrie resembles its predecessor too closely to justify an exhumation more than 25 years after Brian De Palma’s gripping entry. Pacing is sluggish and the climactic bloodbath fails to quicken the pulse.

Wisely, Peirce does not attempt to replicate the iconic jump-out-of-your-seat coda of the original. She allows the visual effects team one final, fittingly lacklustre flourish, consigning her remake to a shallow grave.

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