"These are godless times" – Mamma White
As the poster suggests: You Will Know Her Name.
Or in Breaking Bad terms, you will meet another person with the last name, White that you shouldn't mess with. A reimagining of the classic splatter fest (based on Stephen King's debut novel) that starred Sissy Spacek, Carrie is the fourth in the series following the '76 original, the ill-conceived sequel, Rage: Carrie 2 (1999) and a made-for-TV movie from 2002.
The good news is that Carrie White and her blood bucket drenched prom dress have returned to the big screen to scare a new generation. The film stars Chloë Grace Moretz (Kick Ass 2) as Carrie, Julianne Moore (Don Jon) as her fanatical mother and Judy Greer (The Descendants) as the nicest gym teacher ever.
Just how good is another matter…
With the script co-credited to Lawrence D. Cohen (who wrote the original) this definitely feels like a remake. There are a few new scenes - like a bloody bed sheets opener – but beat for beat both play like the same film. Whole lines of dialogue are lifted, plot points are refurbished, all within a tight 85 minutes.
The devil as they say is in the details. Which Carrie will be crowned the true queen?
Let the face-off begin!
1. Carrie White: Sissy Spacek was 26, Chloë Grace Moretz, a real teen. In role that made Spacek an image of pure terror, Carrie was a "teen" (the actress was well in her twenties) untethered from that first scene at gym class. Later, when her telekinesis goes into over drive, Spacek did it merely with the glaring whites of her eyes - pretty unnerving. Moretz was fifteen when they shot the new version so she looks and behaves more like a adolescent of now. While obviously an attractive girl, Moretz plays the home-schooled, homemade outfit-wearing outcast as the ultimate introvert. We wish Moretz didn't get all handsy with her powers, but both actresses make Carrie White someone to root for and to be afraid, very afraid of.
2. Director's Chair: Brian DePalma or Kimberly Pierce. Filled with lush dream-like sequences, an over-the-top the top score, and clever camerawork, DePalma's version screams the 70s in the best way imaginable. Director Pierce's take, like her breakout film Boys Don't Cry (1999), is more muted, more grounded in reality (until the CGI-filled last act, that is). The biggest plus for Pierce is her handling of the supporting cast (see below), but does story about a gal that crushes cars and tosses knives ever need to feel that real? DePalma's direction remains untouchable.
Winner: Brian DePalma
3. It Gets Better, Social Media Bullying: Everyone knows social networking has wrought a whole new era of mean girls. Director Pierce wisely makes this the focus: the amoral millennial vibe of the 2000s. When Chris (Portia Doubleday) posts a humiliating video of Carrie's first menstrual cycle on YouTube her "what did I do wrong?!" pleas when caught feel all too real. On the other end of the spectrum, Sue (Gabriella Wilde) and her boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) do what they can to help Carrie. The balance between these teen types is pitch perfect. In the 76' original the teens were all over twenty like newbie John Travolta (!). Nancy Allen's Chris was one-dimensional evil.
Winner: 2013 Version
4. Religious Mamas: Piper Laurie played Ms. White as a devout woman that's crazy suspicious of the heathen's in her small town, but her love for her daughter was true. Moore's portrayal of mommy dearest is as self-mutilating, rage-filled monster. When Laurie exclaims, "let's burn it [prom dress] together!" there's genuine affection. When Moore says the same line, not so much. From the opening shot (only in the new version) when Moore gives birth to her "abomination" it's clear where she stands.
Winner: Piper Laurie
5. Gorefest: Getting Her X-Men On: When Carrie finally brings the big hurt to all those that scorned her in the new version we feel it. Big time. The f/x are too computer-generated, but fiendishly bloody! A face that slowly pierces a windshield is the highlight. As mentioned earlier, Carrie using her hands to point where her powers go is beyond silly. Peirce said she meant it to feel like a superhero origin story. The original film has one tossed car.
Winner: 2013 Version
6. Bucket of Pig's Blood: The Big Prom Scene. Then again, the big scene (the one that Carrie is famous for) is still more wicked fun in the original. DePalma split the screen allowing audiences to see Carrie and see her mayhem at the same time. A virtuoso sequence that has yet to be topped.
Winner: 1976 Version
Verdict: While Carrie (2013) does an admirable job grounding the story with teens that feel more relatable we miss the 70s thrills. (Especially, that split screen!) As a result, the original is the still the true prom queen.