I’m sure the majority of you good people reading this have at least heard of the 1976 classic Carrie, the film based on Stephen King’s very first novel of the same name. I’m also sure the majority of you did not know that, in 1988, the film was adapted into a Broadway musical. After only four days and five performances, the production shut down, losing millions of dollars and becoming the most expensive flop in Broadway history at the time.
The reason I bring up Carrie: The Musical is to show that, when an idea is successful, people will try to milk it for all it’s worth. That’s why we live in a world where there are six Fast and the Furious films, 25 seasons’ worth of The Simpsons and approximately three million identical vampire romance novels. It’s also why I find myself reviewing the 2013 remake of Carrie, the third adaptation (fourth if you count a 1999 sequel) of one of King’s most iconic novels. People don’t know when to give up.
If you’re somehow unaware of the story of Carrie White, she’s an unpopular teenager that grows up in an oppressive religious household, finds out she has telekinetic powers, and wreaks havoc on her senior prom after becoming the butt of a cruel joke. I guess I just spoiled the entire movie, but the story’s 40 years old now and it’s all spoiled in the trailer anyways.
And now we’ve got a 2010s makeover starring Chloe Grace-Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In), Julianne Moore and Judy Greer. Thank god, right? Heaven forbid I have to watch a film made before, like, 2007. Old movies suck. There’s less explosions.
But really. There’s absolutely no reason this movie has to exist. Brian de Palma’s 1976 version is still fantastically effective. This adaptation is practically line-for-line identical, except for a few obligatory cell phone appearances, social media references and haphazardly included Vampire Weekend and Passion Pit tunes (hey, gotta keep us millennials interested!). There are only a few minor plot changes, none of which affect the final product in the least. It’s not that the movie is particularly bad, it’s just completely unnecessary.
I do have some qualms with the film other than that. New Carrie tries to be much more shocking and gratuitous, but it comes off as just trying too hard (and I love gore!). It’s too reliant on painfully obvious music cues and distracting, sub-par CGI. The final prom massacre and early scenes such as Carrie having her first period completely lack the power they had in the original.
But the acting is great, especially from Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother. I had problems with Grace-Moretz here and there, but her gleeful, awkward persona in the lead-up to the prom charms your heart and makes you dread the inevitable tragic finale. And the story is just ultimately too good to make me discount Carrie altogether. Except the fact remains the 1976 version is better 99% of the time (I think Moore’s performance is the only improvement) and there’s really no rationalization for this remake’s existence. 2013’s Carrie really isn’t bad by any means, but still, just skip it in favor of the original.