Chloe Moretz plays a shy, mostly home-schooled teen who is bullied at her high school until she discovers she has telekinetic powers in this remake of 'Carrie.' (MrX FX)
‘Carrie” still carries some punch.
And no wonder. Even though it’s been more than 35 years since the first “Carrie,” starring Sissy Spacek and based on a book by a little-known author named Stephen King, was released in theaters, many of the story’s main factors remain hot topics today.
First and foremost is bullying, of course, which has been the focal point of documentaries, protests, books and countless school board meetings in recent years.
And then there’s religious fanaticism. Think that’s had much impact on the world lately?
Not to mention superpowers. When “Carrie” first came out, they were a cinematic rarity. Now it seems as if every other movie features someone with extraordinary abilities.
Then of course there’s the timeless, deep appeal of the revenge fantasy that is the heart of “Carrie.” That one never gets old.
So it’s easy to see how a remake made sense. Especially since an entire generation doesn’t even know the story of “Carrie.” Add in the huge advances in special effects and the more vast potential for public humiliation — hello, viral video — and a new movie was pretty much begging to be made.
So made it has been, and if director Kimberly Pierce (“Boys Don’t Cry”) has stumbled in a few places, she has still delivered an efficient rendering of the awful coming-of-age tale, helped along mightily by stars Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore.
We start out with Moore as the hyper-religious Margaret White, praying as she tries to push a cancer out of her stomach. That “cancer” turns out to be the baby Carrie. Margaret considers murdering the child — it is the product of sin, after all — but softens.
But she doesn’t get too soft. She raises a cloistered Carrie, forcing her to spend hours in a closet praying and home-schooling her, teaching who knows what? When we first encounter the teen Carrie (Moretz), she’s been forced to go to a public high school.
These opening scenes are a bit too broad, with Carrie too meek and alien — it’s not her first day of school, after all. But when the movie quickly gets to the famous scene where a clueless Carrie gets her first period in front of classmates and is taunted mercilessly, the story takes on momentum.
Chief among those taunting is popular Chris (Portia Doubleday), the designated lead mean girl. Also taunting but immediately regretting it is Sue (Gabriella Wilde). Thanks to the compassion of Carrie’s phys ed teacher (Livonia’s Judy Greer), Chris is eventually punished and banned from attending prom.
Carrie, meanwhile, is discovering she has telekinetic powers, even as she struggles with her crazy mother and jeers from her fellow students (she’s now known as Bloody Carrie). She’s gaining a tiny bit of confidence. So when Sue asks her boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) to escort Carrie to the prom as a sort of penance, Carrie eventually agrees.
Let’s just say there are a few problems at prom.
There are a few problems with “Carrie,” as well. At times it’s overplayed, at times it’s well-modulated. The bad kids are relentlessly one-dimensional, and you’d think someone could come up with decent pig’s blood in 2013.
But Moore is terrifying as a guilt-addled true believer, and Moretz caresses her role when she gets the chance. And the hot topics do indeed remain hot. “Carrie” may be spilling old blood, but the horrors at its heart remain quite recognizable.
Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content
Running time: 100 minutes