Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chlo‘ Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday, Zo‘ Belkin, Ansel Elgort, Samantha Weinstein, Demetrius Joyette, Karissa Strain, Judy Greer, Katie Strain, Barry Shabaka Henley
Written by: Lawrence D. Cohen, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, based on a novel by Stephen King
Directed by: Kimberly Peirce
MPAA Rating: R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content
Running Time: 100
Date: 10/18/2013

Carrie (2013)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Carrie' On

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It's hard to care much about the idea of a remake of Brian De Palma's 1976 masterpiece Carrie -- given one ill-fated sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2, a TV remake in 2002 and various Broadway productions -- until we consider that it comes from Kimberly Peirce, the outsider director of Boys Don't Cry (1999) and Stop-Loss (2008), who works all too infrequently. Given her penchant for bullied characters and her overall female perspective, this pairing makes startling sense.

Basically about the fear of women's sexuality, Stephen King's original story -- in which a teen girl develops telekinetic powers at the same time as her first period -- is still remarkably timeless, even the parts about proms and pig's blood.

The story is still the same: Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) gets her period in the shower after gym class and is relentlessly ridiculed. One girl, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) feels bad and orders her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), to take Carrie to the prom. But the bad girl, Chris (Portia Doubleday) plans a hideous revenge. At the same time, Carrie's introduction to puberty has also unleashed telekinetic powers.

Peirce brings some new ideas to Carrie, most obviously an uploaded video of Carrie's tribulations, but also deeper nuances in the mother-daughter relationship. A new introductory scene shows Carrie's twisted, religious mom (Julianne Moore) introducing symbolic scissors to her daughter's life. Later, Moore frequently scratches and cuts herself to punish herself for her sins, as well as for her love.

As Carrie, the gifted Moretz is probably not quite right; she's such a beautiful child that she'd never be a high school outcast, but the actress finds ways to carry herself in a protective, shielded manner, as if nursing terrible wounds. When she unleashes her power, she seems a bit too free and fierce with it, and the pyrotechnical ending goes a bit over the top, but Peirce can be forgiven for cathartically dealing with all the world's bullies. She doesn't have to go to her closet.

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