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Carrie

Year: 2013
Production Co: MGM
Director: Kimberley Peirce
Producer: Lawrence D Cohen/Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa/Stephen King
Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday, Ansel Elgort, Alex Russell, Judy Greer

This is one of those movies you know had some purist foaming at the mouth at the audacity to trample over a classic. Then you realise the original wasn't as classic as you thought it was either, so why not?

And why not indeed when the result is this... I don't want to say 'good' like it's one of the movies of the year, but it was serviceably entertaining. Moretz isn't an Oscar winner but her downcast eyes, folding-in-on-herself stance and precocious pout are perfect for the role of Carrie – a vulnerable, scared girl who walks around looking like she wants the ground to swallow her up.

It's not exactly a shot for shot remake, but director Kimberley Peirce and her writers don't move too far from the bare bones, right down the formative event in the girls' locker room. A few modern tics like mobile phones contemporise the whole thing, but Stephen King's original conceit – the dangers of religious zealotry, shot through with a feminist parable about how powerful a girl can be when she becomes a woman – is so strong it doesn't need any fancy add-ons.

Cute, terminally shy Carrie lives with her fundamentalist mother (Moore), a religious nutjob who lives like an extreme Amish, mistrusts the world around her and her daughter and locks Carrie in a closet as penance for anything even hinting at sin, real or imagined.

At the same time, Carrie is realising she has a strange power to move things with her mind that she's learning to control, and the two are set to clash in the worst way at the school prom. Good-hearted Sue (Wilde) convinces her boyfriend Tommy (Elgort, so much like a young Mark Ruffalo it's uncanny) to invite Carrie to the prom to make up for all the teasing she's endured and about which Sue feels guilty she didn't put a stop to.

But she doesn't know her bitchy friend Chris (Doubleday), along with boyfriend Billy (Russell) have no such qualms. After sympathetic gym teacher (Greer) bans her from the prom as punishment for her shocking attitude, Chris determines that Carrie will pay.

Of course, if you know the story you know Carrie's mother was right all along – a bucket of pig's blood later and the other kids are all laughing at her after all. And when, in a rage, she unleashes her strange new power unchecked and turns the prom into a bloodbath, she does become like some kind avenging demon.

Moore is too good an actress not to play the kooky mother well, simmering with hatred and violence, but none of the other parts need Oscar-level acting. Moretz tips dangerously close to looking silly at times amidst exacting her terrible revenge on everyone at the dance, looking like a little girl trying to do an impression of Emperor Palpatine a few times.

But it's the best possible effort a remake of the original could result in without deviating too far from the essential plot.

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