Carrie Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde. Directed by Kimberly Peirce. Rated R. Opens Friday.
It’s hard to care much about a remake of Brian De Palma’s 1976 masterpiece Carrie—given one ill-fated sequel (1999’s The Rage: Carrie 2), a 2002 TV remake 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 Peirce’s 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 novel—in which a teen girl develops telekinetic powers at the same time as her first period—is still remarkably timeless, even the parts about prom and pig’s blood.
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 Chloë Grace 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.