'Carrie' redux - not necessary, but fine
I'm not sure a remake of Carrie, Brian De Palma's classic 1976 adaptation of Stephen King's high school horror novel, is at all necessary. (In fact, I'm pretty sure it's not.) But if you're going to take another stab at this tale of a taunted, traumatized teen who exacts fiery revenge on, well, everyone, then Kimberly Peirce is the director to do it.
Having already delved into the psyche of a young woman who felt like an outcast and freak (and got beat up, and worse, for her troubles) in the Oscar-winning Boys Don't Cry, Peirce is right at home inside the messed-up mind of Carrie White. As played (just right) by Chloë Grace Moretz, she's a smart, timid girl who has had the misfortune to be raised by an evangelical nutball of a mother.
In fact, Peirce's Carrie opens with Julianne Moore, as Margaret White, writhing alone on a bed in the throes of agony, giving birth. It's a creepy, blood-smeared scene; no doctors or midwives to help with the delivery. She calls the infant that emerges "a cancer."
Sixteen years later, Margaret, wielding crucifixes and witchy strands of hair, is still stomping around the house, ranting about sin and damnation, and locking her daughter in a "prayer closet" to consider such issues in solitude.
And when Carrie unexpectedly begins menstruating in the girls' locker room at school, she thinks something is terribly wrong. No one has told her how a woman's body works, and she starts screaming, alarmed, panicked. High school being high school, her fellow students gather around, full of understanding and empathy, calmly explaining the facts of life.
Actually, the girls laugh at and ridicule her, throwing tampons at the terrified figure lying in a bloody pool in the shower. And then some of them shoot video of the scene with their smartphones.
If anything has changed in the 37 years since the first Carrie (with Sissy Spacek, at the beginning of her career), it's the ease with which bullying can now be enacted. Social media, how great is that!
Peirce's Carrie doesn't stray far from De Palma's - the sympathetic gym coach (Judy Greer), the handsome jock (Ansel Elgort) persuaded by his girlfriend (Gabriella Wilde) to invite Carrie to the prom, the shrewish princess (Portia Doubleday) who plots to humiliate Carrie. . . .
And, of course, there's that tricky telekinesis business: As Carrie begins to find her true self, she realizes she has the power to move objects just by willing them - squinching up her eyes and waving her arms. At first, the cracked mirrors and exploding water coolers are a spontaneous manifestation of her rage, but with a little training and focus, and a reason to seek vengeance, well, let the cutlery and electrical cables, cars, and corpses fly!
Note to Hollywood: Now, will somebody please let Peirce make the movies she really wants to make?