** out of ****
The remake of Carrie is fairly well made, but it lacks the emotional core of the classic original. It's also kinder and gentler and less violent than its predecessor. What's the fun in that? Director Brian De Palma's 1976 take on Stephen King's novel is one of my favorite movies. It has some very unsettling moments and a few effective jump scares but, most importantly, it plays more like a sad, devastating tragedy than a simple horror film.
Director Kimberly Peirce's remake follows the original film pretty closely. Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) is a painfully shy 17-year-old girl. She is constantly tormented by the kids at school, and her home life isn't any better, for her mother (Julianne Moore) is a religious crackpot. When Carrie's classmates get disciplined for teasing her, they plot revenge that would take place at the senior prom. It sucks for those involved because Carrie has telekinetic powers, and can really make objects fly around when she's angry.
The best aspect about this version is Julianne Moore's performance, but as good as she is, however, she doesn't hold a candle to Piper Laurie's unsettling, and Oscar nominated, performance as Carrie's crazed mother in the original. Laurie was a frightening presence every time she was on screen. As for the main character, I just wasn't buying Moretz as the timid, bullied young girl. She comes off as too personable and outgoing. In the '76 version, Sissy Spacek (also Oscar nominated) conveys a believable loneliness in the title character. And Spacek's wide-eyed stare when she used her powers is creepy. Comparatively, Moretz's hand gestures in the same situations come off as laughable because it looks like she it trying to use The Force.
The supporting cast isn't memorable at all in this update. The bullying girls have no presence and Ansel Elgort as the kind Tommy Ross doesn't have the charm or hair of William Katt. Even the score here by Marco Beltrami isn't memorable, not like Pino Donaggio's alternately melancholic and ominous music for the original.
Possible the most telling reason that makes this update toothless is that the screenplay is by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a producer and writer of TV's "Glee."