, Port Arthur, Texas


October 30, 2013

Remaking a horror classic

— Brian De Palma’s 1976 film “Carrie” is one of the most memorably horrific films that I’ve ever seen. Based on Stephen King’s book, “Carrie” has spawned a TV movie and even a Broadway musical. The film still gives me the creeps, even on home DVD, although I will certainly admit that it looks very dated by today’s standards.

It’s not surprising that Hollywood would want to remake “Carrie” using new actors and updated special effects. The problem is that the new film doesn’t have the same shock value. The horrific finale has become a ubiquitous part of horror pop culture. Even kids who haven’t ever seen the original movie know what’s going to happen to Carrie at the prom.

Perhaps even more problematic is that the film’s cultural issues of school violence and bullying have sadly become part of everyday life. What was traumatizing 37 years ago is now something you can see all over YouTube.

Chloë Grace Moretz plays the title character, a young woman being raised by a religious fundamentalist mother (Julianne Moore). This is a woman who sees her daughter as “a cancer” and has set up a closet where Carrie is sent off to pray. The prayer closet has a lock on the door to force Carrie to obey.

Carrie is the oddball at school, picked on by her classmates. Things take a particularly nasty turn when Carrie has her first period in the girl’s locker room. Carrie freaks out, not knowing why she’s bleeding, while the other girls laugh and throw tampons.

That proves to be a big mistake because Carrie starts to develop telekinetic powers. She can move objects with her mind, which proves to be a deadly skill as her classmates continue to torment the young woman.

It all leads up to the big prom finale which is a little bit of a letdown, despite the better special effects. The prom scene is hyper-violent but nowhere near as frightening as the original where we watch a blood-drenched Sissy Spacek unleash her telekinetic wrath with just her bulging eyes and a quick turn of her head.

That’s not to say that Chloë Grace Moretz doesn’t turn in a good performance here. She is quite believable in the role. Julianne Moore goes even further by making the audience empathize with the fundamentalist mother. She makes the mother into a real character, while she was just a crazy monster in the original.

Ultimately this new “Carrie” isn’t just a mindless remake. It is a well-made film, and should do well enough given that it’s one of this Halloween’s only offerings. It will probably play better with younger audiences who will scoff at the fashions in the original film, but for those of us who were able to see the film back when it was first released, this new “Carrie” just doesn’t pack the same punch as De Palma’s original.

Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at

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