Carrie, Stephen King’s first published novel, has been adapted several times for the big screen, Brian De Palma’s 1976 version being the most well-known and successful. The latest incarnation hails from Boys Don’t Cry (1999) director Kimberly Peirce, who delivers an efficient, yet prosaic supernatural thriller that does its best to rework the story to fit in with modern day audiences (nods to social media come thick and fast throughout). Raised by her deeply religious mother Margaret (Julianne Moore), Carrie (the Kick-Ass franchise’s Chloë Grace Moretz) is a timid teenager, whose life is made worse by the fact that she’s constantly teased and tormented by her fellow students.
But when a horrific prank ruins her chances of a happy prom, Carrie is pushed beyond her limits, and finally unleashes the powers she’s been struggling to keep at bay. The narrative of this reimagining effectively follows the same path as Palma’s version, yet screenwriters Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa do well to make it – and title character Carrie – more relatable. A considerable amount of time is spent delving deeper into Carrie’s psyche and how her bullying spurs on her powers, and Peirce matches the tone with her subtle direction. Unfortunately, once the horrific incident at prom takes place, the film shifts in tone in pace, with Peirce abandoning narrative in favour of a powerful (and, of course, bloody) climax.
This results in a finale that feels misjudged and anticlimactic, and tarnishes an otherwise solid build-up. It doesn’t help in the slightest that Moretz feels out of her comfort zone in many of the films latter scenes. She’s a fine actress and handles the earlier scenes well, but isn’t confident enough to convey the power and hell-bent revenge needed come the 2013 film’s blood-soaked finale. It’s understandable that Peirce wanted to stick close to the ending of the book, but one that was slightly more toned down would have worked much better here, and perhaps saved Carrie from being a merely serviceable adaptation of a iconic and much-loved novel.