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Article by Teddy Durgin

New "Carrie" Is No Sissy

I've always been fascinated, from an early age, with the original 1976 "Carrie" because director Brian DePalma piggy-backed his auditions with the ones George Lucas held when casting the original "Star Wars." So, Amy Irving and William Katt could just have easily been Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker as Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill could have been Sue Snell and Tommy Ross. It was years before I was old enough to see "Carrie." It was actually in high school, in fact, during one of those promotional weekends when HBO unscrambled its signal and allowed non-paying cable TV viewers to watch their content for a couple of nights. I remember it was on at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I stayed up to see it. I didn't sleep for a couple of hours afterward! But it wasn't because the film was scary, per se. It was more because it was creepy. The original "Carrie" is really a masterpiece in mood and atmosphere. I think the most unnerving scene in the whole film is when Carrie and Tommy are slow-dancing at the prom and the camera starts spinning around them faster and faster and faster. It's this beautiful moment for Carrie in which she feels normal and even attractive. But the filmmaker is telling you that it's not gonna last, that this is the last moment for Carrie, for Tommy, for everyone. The whole movie feels like life for these characters is headed to a very, very bad place. I had hope for a "Carrie" remake. I really did. So much has happened with teens and high school life in the years since the original film hit that I thought there was real potential here. There has been Columbine. There have been the other school shootings. There is now the increased focus on school bullying. And now you throw social media into the mix. Cyber-bullying. Facebook. YouTube. And the director is Kimberly Peirce of "Boys Don't Cry." This could have been one of those rare properties unlike the Freddy/Jason/ Leatherface reboots that actually had the potential not to top the original, but stand apart from it as its own distinct success. And it just doesn't. Peirce seems a bit lost between crafting a serious character piece and a mainstream horror-terror genre flick. The real problem here is there is just no reason for this film to exist. I understand why they remake things like "A Nightmare on Elm Street" and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." First of all, they're Hollywood brands that are easy sells. But special effects technology and make-up effects have improved in leaps and bounds since their predecessors. Filmmakers can do so much more with those films on a purely technical level. "Carrie" was different. It was much more of a performance piece. The prom sequence massacre was the only big effects sequence of that film. There was a screenplay to be executed and complex characters to be realized. And Piper Laurie and Sissy Spacek were absolutely pitch-perfect in their performances as cinema's creepiest mother and daughter. There was no hint of vanity or even self-awareness in their performances. Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore succeed them in their respective roles. And you could argue that they may be technically better actresses, but this time out Carrie and her mother are more "performed" than realized on screen. And, again, there is a lack of inspiration here - a hesitancy to move the story in some different directions. I grew impatient with the remake and its checklist of scenes and just wanted it to get to the big Carrie freak-out. And in this age of supernatural teen fare from "Harry Potter" to "Twilight" to "X-Men: First Class," I couldn't help but feel this movie trending towards superhero origin story territory. I half-expected Patrick Stewart's Professor Xavier to appear with a scholarship offer or Sam Jackson's Nick Fury to be outside the school with a sly smile waiting to ask Carrie: "Ever heard of the Avengers Initiative?" 'Cause havin' powers is cool, ya know? "

Carrie" is rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content.


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