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dir Kimberly Peirce
prd Kevin Misher
scr Lawrence D Cohen, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
with Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Portia Doubleday, Gabriella Wilde, Ansel Elgort, Alex Russell, Judy Greer, Barry Shabaka Henley, Zoe Belkin, Demetrius Joyette, Samantha Weinstein, Jefferson Brown
release US 18.Oct.13, UK 29.Nov.13
13/US Screen Gems 1h40
Repent! Moretz and Moore
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Peirce amps up the horror for a new adaptation of Stephen King's novel, which she refuses to call a remake even though it's packed with clear references to Brian De Palma's 1976 version. There's also the problem that the earlier film is so iconic that Peirce really needs to do something different if she wants to jolt us.
Carrie (Moretz) is a mousy girl in high school, the butt of other students' jokes. And life is even worse at home with her religious fanatic mother Margaret (Moore), who frequently locks her in a tiny closet to pray for forgiveness. After Carrie is horribly humiliated at school one day, Sue (Wilde) feels bad about what happened and tries to make amends by asking her hot-jock boyfriend Tommy (Elgort) to take Carrie to the prom. But mean girl Chris (Doubleday) is plotting something nasty. And no one knows that puberty has given Carrie telekinetic abilities.
Moretz is a terrific actress but is odd casting to play a timid wallflower. She conveys Carrie's nervous fear of the world, but never convinces us that she's socially inept. Her hair is too luxuriantly styled, for one thing. And once she discovers her power, she knows just how to use it. Opposite her, Moore is terrific as Margaret, a freaky bundle of nervous energy and twisted morality.
Peirce shoots and edits the film beautifully, with a strong sense of Carrie's point of view. This means that pretty much everything is exaggerated to reflect Carrie's escalating freak-out. For example, when she gets her first period in the school locker-room, it's a scene of hellish abuse rather than nasty taunting. And there's a general over-indulgence in digital effects beyond what's necessary to provide atmosphere.
As expected, Peirce brings out the story's strong feminine themes, associating each traumatic event with a milestone that's potentially nightmarish for women. So Carrie's outbursts feel like a defence mechanism against a world in which boys are idiots, girls are cruel and Mom is an out-of-touch nutcase. It's just a shame that Peirce seems to have been unable to resist the pressure to add silly scares and a cheesy musical score that pushes every moment.
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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