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Girl On Fire


CARRIE (R) Teenage misfit Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) is tortured and bullied by her fellow students at school and tyrannized by her highly disturbed religious fanatic mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore), at home. Carrie is no average girl, however. She has telekinetic powers, and eventually her supernatural abilities are unleashed upon everyone who has wronged Carrie.

The idea of director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry; Stop-Loss) adapting Stephen King’s classic horror novel Carrie is certainly an intriguing one, though arguably not a traditional choice for such an endeavor. Peirce’s previous work was grounded in humanity and realism, plunging us into stories both disturbing and emotionally raw, yet all too believable. In this version of Carrie (Brian De Palma made a fantastic, stylish big screen version in 1976 starring Sissy Spacek as the title character), Peirce’s instincts become diluted under the weight of the slick production and horror movie clichés, but there is still plenty of room for her to explore her thematic concerns. This new version, despite some strong performances from Moretz, Moore and Greer, is still an unnecessary affair. Peirce’s version is far more earnest than De Palma’s, though incorporating some of his savage wit would have been just the right touch.  

What severely hampers this remake is how Peirce simplifies the spectacular carnage unleashed by Carrie. In De Palma’s version, Carrie’s vengeance is wild and cruel to innocent and guilty alike. Violence consumes everyone without distinction. It’s what makes the whole affair both terrible and mesmerizing. In Peirce’s version, Carrie’s outlandish meltdown is tailored to horrify yet carefully orchestrated to absolve her of moral transgressions. The bad ones get their comeuppance, and Carrie’s bloody response is thoroughly justified. Unlike Spacek, who plays the character as one overwhelmed by her own power and unable to control it, Moretz is always in control and comes across more like a superhero losing her temper than a teenage girl flooded by violence and unable to harness it. Moretz gives a nuanced performance but lacks the fragility that made Spacek’s take on the character so memorable. Moore is typically excellent, giving the over-the-top role a real sense of depth that was absent from Piper Laurie’s otherwise visceral approach in the original. As remakes go, Carrie isn’t bad, but it does feel needless.