Saturday, 30 November 2013

Review: Carrie (2013)

World of Blackout Film Review

Carrie (2013) Poster

Carrie (2013) (SPOILERS*1)
Cert: 15 / 100 mins / Dir. Kimberley Peirce

The opening scene of the 2013 Carrie remake centres around fear, isolation, blood, violence and hope. A terrified woman, Margaret, gives birth alone, not understanding what's happening to her, convinced that the pain she's in is both a cancer and a punishment from God. When the agony subsides, she lifts her nightdress and looks in suspicion and wonder at the bloodied infant between her legs. Still convinced this is the Devil testing her, she lifts a pair of dressmaking scissors from the bedside table, determined to kill the baby. The eyes of the mother and child meet, the audience holds its breath, the blades fly downwards and stop an inch from the newborn's face. Margaret doesn't know it, but this is the first telekinetic action of her daughter. Instead, she thinks it's another sign, and in a moment of clarity holds the baby to her as she cries.

This is the last moment of clarity anyone has until you realise that you've paid money to sit through this shitfest.

What follows is an hour and a half of contractually obligated embarrassment, managing to be tedious, mechanical, clichéd and condescending, all at once. Outside of the newly written opening, this is a completely unambitious rehash of the 1976 film, but with the aesthetic of a 1980's teen-slasher. In fact, the only thing which indicates the film is happening 'today' is the use of a smartphone camera and YouTube, so clunkily inserted into the screenplay that you can feel your seat jump. It will be the only time during the film that this happens.

Carrie plods through its runtime, ticking boxes as the plot-points are counted home, and by the time the climactic prom-scene arrives, the audience feels only relief that it's almost over. But even for what should be a memorable sequence, so much time has been spent with the characters setting up the blood-soaked prank that there's no actual shock involved. That is, unless, you're as shocked as I was that blood which covers the unfortunate girl as she stands, humiliated, in front of her peers, is not the blood - either in formation or quantity - which fell on her from a height only seconds earlier. How do I know this? Well, so much money had been spend on the effects shot that we get to see the moment of impact three - THREE - times, like it's a fucking John Woo film. As the scene goes on, the splatter has spread, and things which were previously splashed are now soaked. All of this is put to one side, however, as Carrie telekinetically lifts her gym-teacher by the throat and the audience collectively mumbles "You have failed me for the last time, Admiral…"

The main problem (outside of the grinding predicability of the execution of the story, if not the story itself) is that while Chloë Grace Moretz reads her lines and pulls all the right faces, she doesn't have that otherworldly quality which makes an audience uneasy of her presence. She's just a slightly awkward kid getting bullied because she doesn't fit in. But Carrie isn't supposed to be a normal, dorky kid. She's supposed to be a genuine outsider, and this geek's revenge fantasy does little to convince a viewer of that. The only glimmer of anything worthy of your money is Julianne Moore's performance as Carrie's fearful, brainwashed, self-harming mother. But even then she's largely a pantomime villain, pushing the psychological buttons of the audience into wanting to see her harmed instead of pitying her. This emotional manipulation is a technique that the rest of the film attempts throughout, but can't pull off as you aren't given time to care about any of the characters. At best, this is a pointless remake; at worst, it's an insult to a classic of the genre*2.

Apart from anything else, why would the school library - an information resource in an actual educational establishment - have an inch-thick book on "Telekinesis", a volume which can only be entirely anecdotal at best? Why, when Carrie is shaking the house to bits in a rage, does the roof start to cave in and suddenly the kitchen floor is covered with large round pebbles? Were they in the loft? When Carrie returns from the prom and Margaret attempts to kill her, why isn't she using (for dramatic resonance) the scissors from the opening scene?

A parable for the iPhone generation, the bucket of pig's blood is about the least hammy thing in this whole farce...

Is the trailer representative of the film?

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?
I winced during the opening scene for the right reasons, and throughout the rest of the film for the wrong ones.

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
None. None of these.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Yes. Yes I will.

Will I watch it again?
No. No I won't.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
No, but there is a boot-shot.

And because you won't be happy until I've given it a score...

And my question for YOU is…

*1 As if Sony hasn't already spoiled things enough by fucking making this fiasco.
*2 And I say that as someone who doesn't particularly like the original.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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