Stephen King’s tale of bullying, rage and religious fundamentalism is still relevant even if this watered down remake prefers to avoid the nuances that made King’s tale so utterly terrifying when it transferred to the screen.
The weakness of this version comes via the way it appears to build up to THE moment – the scene of Carrie’s ultimate humiliation beneath a bucket of blood at the school prom.
The surrounding plot feels underwritten. It includes scattered hints at Carrie’s bizarre home life with her deranged mother, a shower room sequence in which Carrie’s olde world innocence is outlined and the gradual revelation of her powers of telekinesis.
It is easy to refer to earlier versions of bad remakes and point out inadequacies. But despite boasting the talents of Julianne Moore (as Carrie’s hellfire and brimstone mama) and Portia Doubleday as her nemesis this 21st century Carrie is underwhelming and, crucially, not remotely frightening.
The 1976 original streamed with a sense of dread and foreboding. Sissy Spacek as Carrie was fragile, distant and sufficiently outside the norm to draw the attention of merciless “regular” girls.
The remake – it uses that deathless term “re-imagining” to its detriment – casts Chloë Grace Moretz as the heroine to no great effect. Hers is a swift transformation from shy, awkward outsider to belle of the ball and propels the plot onwards to that explosive denouement.
Yet the image of Carrie stalking the streets laying waste to her town and her enemies seems contrived and lazy – a method of employing CGI and other effects. The danger of Spacek (and Piper Laurie as her mad-as-a-hatter mother) was in her eyes; Moretz makes the mistake of adopting Joe Cocker-style mannerisms. What’s more the film has her floating through the skies like a witch. Modern audiences might lap it up but older viewers will find themselves reaching for the original.
Star rating: **