'Carrie' remake worthwhile

The Fresno BeeOctober 16, 2013 

Chloë Grace Moretz stars in the remake of "Carrie."

SCREEN GEMS

How much you enjoy the remake of the 1976 classic horror film "Carrie" will depend on how well you remember the original film.

Except for more elaborate special effects and the addition of social media as a tool for the bullying that turns milquetoast Carrie into the worst prom date ever, this is basically the same take on the Stephen King novel.

Those who haven't seen the original will be introduced to the emotionally and socially stunted Carrie, played to a creepy chill by Chloë Grace Moretz. She's a high school reject because her zealot mother (Julianne Moore) has raised her to believe that any good feelings are pathways for Satan to take her soul. You can imagine how much dear old mom fears any sexual awakenings that could be going on with her daughter.

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When Carrie becomes the focus of ridicule, caused by the social ignorance her mother has instilled in her, the teen appears headed to a lifetime of solitude. It's at this time that Carrie finds she has telekinetic powers, a family trait that skipped a generation.

One popular teen (Gabriella Wilde) feels sorry for Carrie and convinces her equally popular boyfriend to make Carrie his prom date. This act of kindness becomes a bloody nightmare when the hazing of Carrie reaches biblical levels. There's no wrath as deep as that of a prom queen scorned.

The key to making "Carrie" work falls on the mother and daughter. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie set a high standard in the original — one that Moretz and Moore match. They manage to make these characters both unnerving and sympathetic, a task that's not easy to do.

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From the agonizing pain in her voice to her slumped-shouldered stance, Moretz finds the perfect pitch to play this ultimate tale of teen angst. The young actress has an incredible ability to sell a scene with her eyes, a powerful tool for this performance as Carrie's emotional stability tilts and shatters.

Moore becomes possessed by the spirit of the emotionally mangled maternal character and creates a mesmerizing performance as she swings from caring to crazy. The balance she finds to play this character is the cornerstone for the entire film.

They found these performances through Kimberly Peirce, who would seem to be an odd selection as director. Her past works have featured the socially relevant films "Boys Don't Cry" and "Stop-Loss." But, if you look past all of the blood and gore, "Carrie" is the kind of movie Peirce likes to make. "Carrie" was released almost 40 years ago, but it has a message about bullying that resonates clearly today. That element, as accented by Peirce, makes "Carrie" a smarter movie than the standard horror films.

It's a strong point, but it's not enough to make fans of the original film change their loyalties. As for "Carrie" virgins, they get both an entertaining and socially relevant take on the King classic.

Movie review

"Carrie," rated R for violence, language, sexual content. Stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde. Directed by Kimberley Peirce. Running time: 92 minutes. Grade: B-

Theaters and times

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, rbentley@fresnobee.com or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.

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