Remakes of horror films, if you ask me, are almost as common as horror films. Sometimes it works, other times I hate it. The upcoming re-imagining of “Carrie” has me dubious to say the least. Many iconic horror films have been redone, and a lot of them didn’t suck. I enjoyed Rob Zombie’s “Halloween” and as much as the plot of “I Spit On Your Grave” disturbed me, I thought the remake was handled well. That said, there are also so many that I felt didn’t work, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “The Omen” being examples. The original “Carrie” has some of the most recognizable imagery in all of horror land and my brain just can’t wrap around remaking it.
Off the bat, prior to seeing anything about the film, there are some differences that I am on board with. The original “Carrie” was directed by Brian De Palma (“Scarface,” “Mission: Impossible”) whereas the new version has a female director at the helm, Kimberly Peirce (“The L Word,” “Boys Don’t Cry”), which is a dynamic I find intriguing. The core of “Carrie” is the relationship between a mother and a daughter. Sure, the novel was written by some guy named Stephen King, but I’m curious to see how a female interprets the material.
Speaking of the mother, Julianne Moore plays Carrie’s mother Margaret White, a role originated by Piper Laurie. For me, it doesn’t matter what anybody thinks of Julianne Moore, it doesn’t matter that she is Academy Award nominated, I am leery as to how she will handle this role. Not because I doubt her acting ability — let me put that out there — but because Laurie’s portrayal as the overly religious and abusive mother is so iconic.
Perhaps my opinion is founded on the fact that the mother scared the ever-living out of me as a kid and she is what made the movie scary and memorable for me. I realize the new film needs to adapt to this day and age and I can appreciate contouring films for modern society, but in this featurette from the revamped “Carrie,” we see and hear Moore’s take on that oh-so-famous line, “They’re all gonna laugh at you.” It just does not compare to the eerie and chilling delivery by Laurie.
When an actor gives a performance that becomes legend, it is very difficult for somebody else to step into those shoes and walk justifiably in them. “Carrie” was one of my favorite scary movies as a kid, so I find myself very protective of it. I don’t want to bash Chloë Grace Moretz (“Kick-Ass,” “Dark Shadows”), who landed the lead as Carrie, but I fail to believe anybody could outshine Sissy Spacek. I am completely biased. Chloë may just knock it out of the park, but before seeing the film, I just can’t picture it. It’s not just actors filling shoes, specific scenes need to be taken into account as well. How in the world is this remake going to handle the infamous pig’s blood prom scene? That is one of the most predominant images in all of horror history. Mix that in with the actors and updated cinematography and, for me, it’s a real gamble.
Director Kimberly Peirce and Julianne Moore have said that this film is not to be viewed as a remake, but as a new adaptation that relates more closely to the book. Although Stephen King was not an official consultant, he did communicate with producers regarding the project. There will be more focus on Carrie’s telekinesis and the arc for those powers is written similarly to a superhero’s. Moore has also said that she wanted her character to be more than a Bible-thumping lunatic and wanted her to have more substance. As for the blood and guts factor, the audience can expect carnage at a higher level than the 1976 film. We can expect several homages to the first film, which is a good hook for fans of the first flick, which paid homage in its own way to the horror genre (for example, the high school was named Bates High).
Will I be seeing “Carrie” when it comes out on Oct. 18, just in time for Halloween? Absolutely. I loved the original “R-rated Matilda,” as I grew up referring to her. I have many doubts and can only hope that “Carrie” does its own thing and can hold its weight in today’s market. I think there is some real potential in Julianne Moore, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Kimberly Peirce, but with the shadows of the first film always in my mind, it’s going to be a tough sell. Not to mention it totally bums me out John Travolta is nowhere to be found in this updated tale.
In all honesty, I do not have high hopes for “Carrie” and I do hope I’m wrong, but we shall see come Oct. 18. This is high on my Halloween marathon list for sure, because even if it turns out to flop like a fish, people might not notice because it fits the time of year like a glove.
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