Friday, October 18, 2013

A Reel Review: CARRIE

The latest adaptation of Stephen King’s novel CARRIE is a fresh, modern take on the tale. It is deeply rooted in modern society in an effort to introduce an old tale of horror to a new generation.
Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is a shy, socially awkward teenager who is constantly being made fun of by her classmates. She is raised by her overzealous, religious mom (Julianne Moore), and gradually discovers a telekinetic power within her.

CARRIE is at its finest when it is focused on the main character. Director Kimberly Pierce does some excellent and very effective work in generating sympathy for Carrie. She is a girl who doesn’t quite yearn to fit in, but just wants to be relieved of the torture she finds everywhere; from her overbearing mother to bullying classmates and condescending teachers, it doesn’t take long to feel for Carrie and her problems. The film has a tremendous amount of heart, and every glimmer of hope which turns into heartbreak can be felt right down below the cockles every time. Pierce understands the innards of Carrie White and never fails to bring it to the screen. Modern tools such as cell-phones and YouTube are inserted into the mix to help compound the bullying angle, giving the film a very realistic and relevant appeal.
While the heart-and-soul and the narrative of CARRIE is sound, the craftsmanship in putting the film together is shaky. Pierce doesn’t inject any sort of imagination or style into the film, and everything has a very bland and dull feel to it; there is no clever work with lighting or cameras, and with one or two exceptions the editing fails to build any sort of tension. Dialogue is wooden and clumsy, and plot points are thumped down in such a way that even people unfamiliar with the story can see what’s going to happen next. CARRIE feels uninspired despite the efforts to draw emotion.

The burden is on the cast to save the film, and here is where CARRIE is worthwhile. Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore are very committed to their roles and it shows. Moore’s character may be written over-the-top (or even way over), but she sells the character and induces a fair amount of the creep-factor. The film appropriately belongs to Chloe, who turns in an amazing performance which is by far the best of her young career. From fear to elation to horror to the feelings of a bashful little girl, Chloe sells the character and makes you feel every tear. The supporting cast of her classmates are bland and inexperienced, but Judy Greer shows up as the one and only teacher with empathy towards Carrie and does a fine job.
It isn’t until the bloody finale where CARRIE finally begins to show some flares of tension and style, and the last twenty minutes are good enough to wonder where that type of effort was earlier. There is a lot to be impressed with this version of CARRIE. There are excellent performances backed by a fresh look at the character…which makes it all the more frustrating as that core of the film is surrounded by weak filmmaking. CARRIE is serviceable, but could have and should have been a lot more.



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