Ginger Nuts of Horror
There are obvious comparisons between these two versions; after all they are both the same story, for those of you who have never read Stephen King's source material or seen any of the versions it is about a plain girl from a somewhat dysfunctional background whom upon reaching puberty finds out that it's a gift which keeps on giving as she develops extreme telekinetic abilities. It is essentially a horror tale of the consequences of bullying, that's how I see it anyway.
The original movie sees Carietta "Carrie" White (Sissy Spacek) being bullied at school for being somewhat plain and also a little 'odd'. Her hyper-religious upbringing by her psychotic mother has brainwashed her into a way of life in which she is totally unaware of what happens at the onset of puberty, which leads to significantly vicious bullying from classmates.
That's the essential precursor to an escalation of troubles. Without giving too much away the bullying leads to an official reprisal, revenge for that reprisal is meticulously plotted and when fulfilled leads to Carrie turning the tables with a little revenge of her own in a way which has firmly cemented Carrie into Horror history to the point where it has been copied and parodied so often as to become a cliché.
The original, although somewhat dated, still remains the best with Miss Spacek on top form delivering a beautifully poignant performance as the teenager with way too many problems. Sissy Spacek, at 5'3" and of somewhat slender build fitted well in the role despite being 27 at the time. Her performance is the stuff of horror-film legend, and we are never left in any doubt as to the credibility of her emotional outpourings.
So now we're onto the 2013 version, which as I said earlier is essentially the same except for the more modern slant of cyber-bullying and one other essential difference. That lends a credibility which modern audiences can identify with, and I guess this is where the remake was actually necessary, because it bridges a gap which even the 2002 TV version didn't manage, and that is to bring the "Original and Best" of the Telekinetic Teenager horror stories up to date and absorbable by a much more enlightened and jaded audience. They've seen it all before in the parodies and copycats, and they have seen so much general horror that "Carrie" could quite easily have been just another routine teen flick. This is where the essential difference comes in…
Chloë Grace Moretz.
On paper Miss Moretz could have been a bad choice for the role of the shy innocent wallflower. Whilst she is actually a teenager with an unconventional prettiness and slightness of build making her perfectly believable as an object of bullying, she is also very well known for playing "Hit Girl" in the two "Kick-Ass" films and a vampire in "Let Me In", so we already know that she can be convincing as a nasty little sod, which dents the credibility a little in the role of the supposedly timid "Carrie".
Getting an actual teenager to play an actual teenager is rarely a bad idea, although not all have the skills to do justice to heavyweight roles. In this case it's fortunate that Chloë Grace Moretz is rather versatile and experienced as "Carrie" is the stuff of legend and very big shoes to step into. In all fairness I cannot think of a better actress to play the role. For a while Lindsay Lohan was connected with the proposed remake, and I am so grateful that it didn't happen as it would have been disastrous. Moretz takes the role and respects it, keeping it believable.
Brian De Palma's Carrie is one of the better adaptations of King's work. The 2013 version does it justice.
To be perfectly honest I was wondering how anyone could possibly do better than Sissy Spacek, but that turned out fine. Piper Laurie, the original 'Margaret White', the deranged religious nutcase mother of Carrie was a fine performance. The same cannot be said for Julianne Moore's version of the role, which I thought was given far more screen time than deserved or required. Although not a poor performance I found it dragged out beyond necessity.
The 'classmates' didn't lend much to the film either, the original cast of 'teenagers' fared much better than their modern counterparts as they all seemed to have more individual personalities than the modern versions of whom none stood out in any way, with one viable exception.
Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) is the guy who takes Carrie to the Prom. Although not outstandingly good looking or hunky he does have a charm about him which when it comes into play toward the end of the film does engender some sympathy.
Sympathy also extends to Miss Desjardin (Judy Greer) in the role of Carrie's Gym Teacher who doesn't deserve her part in the denouement.
The 'Monet Shot' is the occurrence at the Prom; I say 'Monet' as it is a work of art. Although in essence it is in line with the original it does benefit from big budget effects which wouldn't have been possible in 1976. Although a tad overdone in places it is still a joy to watch, especially when Carrie has a face-off with a car. Chloë Grace Moretz ascends, keeping the focus right where it should be, on the carnage.
The film should really have ended in the same way as the original, but the remake takes a few liberties. There's a 'shock ending' which is really pointless and nowhere near as good as the original's shocker.
Would I recommend the remake? I'd say yes to that, but with the proviso that if you haven't seen the 1976 version you should see that first. It may be 39 years old, but it still delivers.