Rated: R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 18, 2013 Released by: Screen Gems
Kimberly Peirce's take on the 1974 Stephen King book deviates from Brian DePalma's shrewd, florid way through operatic, camp horror as a more derivative example of the genre without offering the same freakish thrills back when Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie played pariah offspring and monstrous Bible-thumping mother earning Oscar nods.
What's the point of a remake as much of the weirdness has been diffused, even the special effects more so than some may expect? To get the hard-core crowd in for a stellar opening to revel in a current (smartphone, YouTube postings) high-school revenge picture that stars the able Chloe Grace Moretz (Let Me In, Kick-Ass 2) and Julianne Moore, the latter irrational in a different way done to solid effect especially through her visage.
Maybe Moretz has less to dig in here with the screenplay having her been attractive enough to just want out from her crazy mother who believes lusting men can "smell the blood" on Carrie. She doesn't fit into the 'ugly duckling' image that Spacek (well into her 20s at the time) channeled with surprising visceral veracity.
Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell take on the roles allotted to Nancy Allen and John Travolta as Carrie's main tormentors, acquitting their roles well enough to include quite a retribution. As the "good girl" Sue Snell which Amy Irving originally inhabited, there is a little twist regarding her in the denouement which doesn't compare well to the indelible graveside finale. Ansel Elgort limns a sympathetic figure (much like William Katt) as the date for Carrie to come out of her shell. Judy Greer is decent as the no-nonsense gym teacher earlier well-endowed by Betty Buckley.
The opening works off of sexual ignorance and is paralleled years later with a locker room shower scene with scornful classmates and humiliation captured on-line. The famous pig's blood scene comes on at the prom as Carrie has a special mental power to help a defenseless girl. One still can't help feeling the buildup to how she'll react when she's really irate. There is no moral shadings to this respectable, well-made but ultimate lame Carrie.