EDITOR’S NOTE: Unfortunately, because of my many duties as a racecar-driving dog wrestler, I wasn’t able to attend my press screening of Carrie, which opens tomorrow. Luckily, a filmmaker and friend of FilmDrunk (let’s call him Eugene), was not only able to see the film, but attended the premiere. This is his review/report. -Vince
I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to the cast and crew premiere of “Carrie.” So, like a good American, I decided to exploit that luck and write a review for the interwebz. You’re welcome.
The inner-workings of the premiere aren’t overly interesting. There’s the red carpet/press line, which, if you’ve never seen one, is a horrifying pit of despair. Imagine a vortex to hell–sort of like Al Pacino’s wall sculpture in The Devil’s Advocate–only all the demons are holding cameras and screaming “CHLOE! CHLOE! LOOK OVER HERE!! JULIAANE MOORE! YOU’RE SO AMAZING! WHY ARE YOU IN THIS MOVIE?!”
After the photographers, you’ll find my favorite group: the autograph seekers. Some are legitimate fans, mostly kids with autograph books and homemade signs. But hiding in their midst are two-person teams of professional autograph seekers. The person in front holds forth an actor’s headshot for signature. Once it’s signed they quickly hand it back to their partner who deftly slips them a new, alternate headshot. Then the front person holds that new picture out for signature. Of course there are so many people waving cameras and headshots that the celebrities never notice that the same person has now held out six different headshots to be signed. The duo has now successfully acquired a bunch of newly autographed headshots to put on eBay.
Once you get inside, the rest of the event is rather lovely. Everyone is dressed nice, there are no trailers and you even got a free bucket of popcorn! Then the movie started, and as I watched the opening scene I had to remind myself that Julianne Moore was in the room so that I didn’t laugh out loud. Because the opening scene is absolutely ridiculous.
(If you’re sensitive about spoilers you should probably stop here. Then again, it’s Carrie. If you don’t know what happens during the prom scene you probably shouldn’t watch TV…or look at any billboards…or the sides of buses for the next couple weeks. Definitely avoid any VH1 marathons of “I Love The 70’s”)
Truth be told, I’ve never read the book and I only saw the original 1976 Carrie AFTER seeing the re-make (in preparation of this review). I grew up in a time when Adam Sandler saying “they’re all going to laugh at you!” was the hottest thing you could buy on CD at your local Sam Goody. I’ve seen the definitive prom scene several times on late-night cable, but not the 70-odd minutes leading up to it.
So, as I watched a little newborn Carrie comically pop out of Julianne Moore’s hoo-ha in the opening scene, I thought to myself “Holy crap! Did they do this scene in the seventies? I need to see the original!” I look forward to the upcoming gifs of Julianne Moore squeezing out a bloody, infantile Jesse Pinkman (because: INTERNET).
The movie was fun, not really my taste, but fun. I will say this: Julianne Moore and Judy Greer blow their predecessors out of the water. The original mother (played by Moore in the remake) can be boiled down to that singular Adam Sandler impersonation: “THEY’RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU! THEY’RE ALL GOING TO LAUGH AT YOU!” The original gym teacher (played by Greer in the remake) is forgettable at best. But in this version, Julianne Moore is HORRIFYING and Judy Greer is the most believable and empathetic character in the film. I believe this is mostly thanks to director Kimberly Pierce (Boys Don’t Cry). Pro tip: if you’re making a horror film that is a pretty obvious analogy for the isolation and alienation a woman experiences going through puberty, it behooves you to have a female at the helm.
Let’s be honest. Stephen King writes terrible female characters and Brian De Palma is a terrible director (I love Scarface as much as the next bro, but seriously — rewatch your favorite De Palma films and glory in their wretchedness). So, while I still maintain that the new Carrie is a pretty terrible movie, it is FAR LESS terrible than the original. The best scenes in the remake, such as Carrie experiencing her first menstrual cycle, Carrie trying to communicate with her delusional mother, or Greer’s gym teacher character trying to guide these young women through adolescence are–in the original–either laughably bad or uncomfortably sexualized.
And, again, Julianne Moore is fantastic. I was glad to see such an accredited actor not phone it in for this less-than-superb film. The remake succeeds at framing her fanaticism in a more understandable and horrifying way. Whereas in the original she is a door-to-door bible thumper, in the remake her portrayal is more believable and disturbing. When the mother of one bully insists her daughter is a good girl, Moore’s response of “These are godless times” cuts a thousand times deeper than in the original.
That being said, the script is painfully unoriginal. It’s like the screenwriters just copy/pasted the original film and then went “Okay. I’m gonna change this one tiny thing. Hey look! It’s a new scene now!!” The same dialogue copy and pasted into a slightly-better-executed scene. And, I’m sorry, but Chloe Grace Moretz ain’t no Sissy Spacek. She’s very talented, and may be able to go toe-to-toe with Jack Donaghy, but when it comes to creeping me out with a single look, nope. Sissy Spacek has the perfect combination of beauty and “HOLY SHIT ARE YOU AN ALIEN?!?” that one needs when slaughtering all her classmates with telekinesis.
On that note, let’s talk about the telekinesis.
Firstly, for as good of a job as the remake did in updating the details of the original, “You bullied her AND posted a video of it on the INTERNET? Whaaat?” Carrie still researches telekinesis via our old friend, the book. This is AFTER she watches a YouTube video about telekinesis. I’m pretty sure some of the book titles were even the same as in the original. Again, it felt like huge chunks were simply copy and pasted from the original script, then changed just enough so your teacher doesn’t catch you.
Secondly, do you need to wave your hands around like Magneto to use your telekinesis? The new Carrie does. Sissy Spacek’s Carrie just looks around with her big, creepy eyeballs and BOOM! Mind bullets.
Also, did you know telekinesis can tell you that a supporting character is pregnant only a few weeks into her pregnancy AND tell you the gender of the fetus before it’s developed any sort of genitalia?! Apparently telekinesis totally does that!
On a comedic level, the new movie did suffer from a lack of John Travolta. But on a dramatic level, it did benefit from a lack of John Travolta. So, I’m a bit torn on that one. And I would be remiss if I did not say that the obligatory end-of-the-horror-movie “scare” in the original Carrie was pretty awesome. And in the remake it is lackluster CGI nonsense.
Bottom line: If you love the original then you’re probably a nostalgic sap and you’ll hate the re-make because it’s “just not as good”. If you’re like me, you’ll think the movie is bad, but still derive some enjoyment from watching it. Horror fans will enjoy it. I know everyone at the premiere told me how much they enjoyed the film. But then again, it was Hollywood and Julianne Moore was in the room so they may have just been saying that so they still had a job in the morning.
2013 Carrie: C+
1976 Carrie: D