While Stephen King's 1974 novel and Brian DePalma's 1976 film are undisputed horror classics, director Kimberley Peirce ("Boys Don't Cry") brings a contemporary dimension to her remake of this coming-of-age story, now that teenage bully-
ing has become a relevant, social-media-inflamed, national crisis.
Quivering, vulnerable Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a naive, troubled high school outcast who's been so over-zealously sheltered by her religiously fanatic mother, Margaret (Julianne Moore), that when she gets her first menstrual period one day in the shower after gym class, she has no idea what's happening and is terrified that she's dying. The mean girls in the locker room cruelly mock her, tossing tampons and screaming, "Plug it up!"
Using her cellphone to make a video of the event, Chris Hargesen (Portia Doubleday) posts it on the web. When the gym teacher, Ms. Desjardin (Judy Greer), realizes what's happening, cyber-humiliated Carrie's classmates are reprimanded. Conflicted Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) has regrets but nasty Chris is defiant, which leads to her suspension, meaning no prom.
Smugly determined to take revenge against shy Carrie, Chris has no idea what retaliation lies in store for her since, along with the onset of puberty, Carrie has just become aware of her telekinetic powers. So when the hunkiest guy, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), escorts her into the prom...
Back when DePalma made the original version, he cast then-26-year-old Sissy Spacek; this time, Peirce picked 16-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz. In the aftermath of the Columbine/Virginia Tech/Sandy Hook tragedies, Peirce discarded the concept of Carrie as a calculated killer. Those are interesting choices.
Nevertheless, scripted by the original's Lawrence D. Cohen and "Glee" writer Robert Aguirre-Sacasa, it's more of the same -- with the addition of a creepy, entirely new opening sequence involving psychotic Margaret's giving birth to her daughter.
And the scary, albeit campy, humor has been excised, replaced by an insidiously pervasive sadness.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Carrie" is a gory, gruesome 6 -- an updated blood bath that's far too evocative of today's grisly, real-life violence.