Nobody asked for, or really needed, a remake of Brian de Palma’s iconic 1976 horror movie “Carrie,” based on Stephen King’s debut novel.
If it was going to be remade though, it could have been much worse than the slick version provided by director Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) this week.
The remake actually follows the original rather closely, updating it where need be (cyber bullying!) and improving the special effects considerably.
Chloe Grace Moretz inherits the lead role of Carrie White, a naive, awkward teen raised by an oppressive mom and thrust into that most nightmarish level of hell: an American high school.
Carrie endures bullying and humiliation, discovers powers of telekinesis and ultimately exacts revenge at the most famous prom in cinematic history.
Moretz was an interesting choice as the lead. Could a pretty girl who is the epitome of cool — Hit Girl! (in “Kick-Ass”), not to mention a vampire (“Let Me In”) — play the drab, sheltered, gawky teen brought to life so memorably by Sissy Spacek?
It turns out she can, quite capably. Moretz gives the role some nice touches, guiding Carrie through a roller-coaster stretch of adolescence and investing the audience in her plight.
Even better, however, is Julianne Moore as Carrie’s mother, a loony and warped religious fanatic who keeps her daughter on an uncomfortably short leash. Moore gives some creepy weight to a role that easily could have devolved into camp (including an incredibly disturbing birth scene).
The rest of the teen supporting cast is forgettable. Carrie’s chief tormentor, Chris Hargensen, is played by an actress with a much better real-life mean-girl name: Portia Doubleday. Ansel Elgort is the bland, softhearted dreamboat Tommy Ross, who brings Carrie to the prom. Gabriella Wilde is Sue Snell, the popular girl who actually tries to help.
“Carrie” doesn’t do anything to build on its source material. If you’ve seen the first one, you’ll know what’s going to happen almost all the time. Still, for those who have never seen the original, this one is a perfectly acceptable replacement.
Rental Recommendation: Real-life bullying can be more horrifying than the scripted kind. Every parent should watch the documentary “Bully.” Grade: A.
Email Steve Ouellette: firstname.lastname@example.org
Starring: Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Portia Doubleday
Rated: R (for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content)
Running time: 100 minutes