The new Carrie is certainly not the worst remake of recent years, but it is fraught with problems. That said, anyone coming to the material with no preconceptions – having not seen De Palma's smashing 1976 original, nor read the debut Stephen King novel upon which it is based – will find much to like.
The story of Carrie has many parallels with Joss Whedon's epic TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer – the horrors of high school, of life as a teenager, and a girl with powerful abilities. Carrie (Moretz) is a shy, naive and mousey girl, bullied and picked on at school, and terrorised by her religious fanatic mother, Margaret (Moore), at home. As she enters puberty (with a shocking, though tame compared to the original, first-period scene in the girls' locker room) Carrie discovers that she has the power of telekinesis. And that power is unleashed with devastating effect after a nasty prank is played on her at the end-of-year prom.
The cast too is first rate, from Moretz and Moore in the elad roles to Wilde, Doubleday, Elgort and Greer put in fine performances in the supporting roles of students Sue Snell, Chris Hargensen and Tommy Ross, and gym teacher Ms Desjardin. But Moretz herself is possibly the film's biggest flaw. She's a fine actress, but she comes with a fair bit of baggage in that she's played quite a few tough, no-nonsense roles in the past – primarily Hit Girl in the Kick Ass films, and Kaylie Hooper on TV's 30 Rock. She does her best to portray a meek and mild Carrie in the film, but it's hard to see her as such. She feels a little bit too pretty for the part, too. Spacek was a better fit as a mousy, picked-on girl in the original.
Another aspect that doesn't quite work is some of the dialogue – there are lines from the original 70s film that don't really suit a modern-day setting. Characters say "Aw shucks", and Carrie uses the line "I know who he goes around with," in reference to Tommy's relationship with Sue, Who says that any more? We also get Tommy at the prom saying: "To the devil with false modesty." Seriously, when's the last time you heard an 18-year-old speak that way? It's clunky, and it's the sort of dialogue that should have been changed when the original film's script was being adapted for this remake.
The most distressing thing about this remake is that it doesn't do anything terribly different from the original film – although the early shower-room scene is all rather chaste and nudity free. Director Peirce delivers a well-made and workmanlke feature, but it doesn't really have her stamp on it. It's a shame the producers didn't take the opportunity to return to King's book and bring more of that story to the screen, instead of just remaking an already perfectly good film (albeit with much better special effects). It's a missed opportunity.
EXTRAS ★★★★ There are two versions of the film, with a slight difference – both are the theatrical cut, but the second version has an alternate (and, in my opinion, superior) ending. As for the bonus material: there's an audio commentary with director Pierce; nine alternate and deleted scenes, with an optional commentary from Pierce (10:18); the featurette Tina On Fire: Stunt Double Dailies (2:03), with an optional commentary from Pierce; the making-of featurette Creating Carrie (21:07); the featurette The Power of Telekinesis (4:02); the marketing featurette Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise (2:39); and the theatrical trailer.