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CARRIE: 2 ½ STARS. “pig’s blood will really ruin a taffeta dress.”

Carrie-Movie-Chloe-Moretz-650x406People have been asking me about this movie for months but they haven’t been asking, ‘Is it good?, they’ve been asking me why anyone would remake the 1976 classic.

After seeing it, I’m not sure.

The new version is a perfectly serviceable adaptation of Stephen King’s famous book but it doesn’t have the vulnerability or frailty that made Sissy Spacek so memorable in the title role.

The third adaptation of Stephen King’s 1974 novel stars Chloë Grace Moretz as Maine high school outcast Carrie White, a lonely girl teased by classmates and abused by her deeply religious mother (Julianne Moore). Despite the best efforts of gym teacher Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer) to help Carrie fit in, a clique of mean girls led by Chris (Portia Doubleday) make it their mission to ensure that Carrie has a rough time at school. After being humiliated at her senior prom—pig’s blood will really ruin a taffeta dress apparently—she unleashes a terrible telekinetic vengeance on those who wronged her.

Director Kimberly ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ Pierce has been more or less faithful to the flow of the book and Brian De Palma’s movie, but there are differences.

Where Spacek was a true outsider, an abused, naïve girl, Moretz plays her with a bit more pluck and I’m not sure it services the character. Carrie 2.0 still has a sullen look for the ages but she has more backbone than her predecessor and for me that eroded some of the tragedy of the story. Both are Ugly Ducklings transformed into swans and then monsters, unwitting and undeserving victims of horrible abuse, but Spacek’s take on the character brought more vulnerability to the character and that, for me, better underlined her deeply sad story.

Moretz’s best scene happens before the bloody revenge rampage. There is a sweetness to her in the prom scenes (pre pig’s blood) that makes the anticipation of what is to come all the more tense. Too bad the rest of the movie doesn’t hold that tension.  Also a mother and daughter knife battle made me shift to the front of my seat mostly because it felt more organic and less computer generated than some of the other displays of Carrie’s mad telekinetic skillz. It felt dangerous in a way that the rest of the violence didn’t.

Despite a slower-than-necessary pace, I liked Julianne Moore’s head thumping self-punishment scenes and Portia Doubleday’s take on the lead mean girl who takes just a bit too much delight in tormenting Carrie.

“Carrie” works in those moments, but generally there’s too much CGI—the floating books are silly—and since when can Carrie fly?

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