Carrie (2013) Blu-ray Review
Written by Steve Pattee
Directed by Kimberly Pierce
Written by Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguierre-Sacasa, based on Stephen King's novel
2013, Region A, 99 minutes, Rated R
Blu-ray released on January 14th, 2014
Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie White
Julianne Moore as Margaret White
Gabrialla Wilde as Sue Snell
Portia Doubleday as Chris Hargensen
Alex Russell as Billy Nolan
Ansel Elgort as Tommy Ross
Judy Greer as Ms. Desjardin
Before I start talking about Carrie, I’m going to put this out there: I don’t care about remakes, reimaginings, reboots, prequels or sequels. If it were announced that Tyler Perry was rebooting my favorite film of all time with Madea’s Dawn of the Dead, it would not faze me because, contrary to what some may think, it would change nothing about George Romero’s 1978 masterpiece. As a matter of fact, part of me enjoys the explosion of hate tweets when it is announced that a popular horror film is slated for a reboot – especially when said film ends up on “Best of” lists at the end of the year. I’m looking at you, person who complains about how much remakes suck, then ends up praising the likes of Maniac and Evil Dead on your Best of 2013s. I hope the hypocrisy is not lost on you. So, with all that said, I was probably one of the few fans of the 1976 version of Carrie who not only didn’t mind that there was an upcoming reimagining, but also looked forward to it. Granted, my hopes weren’t high, but I’ve learned from experience not to shit on a movie based on the announcement alone.
If you’ve not seen any of the incarnations of Carrie (the 1976 film, the 2002 TV miniseries, and now this 2013 reimagining), the story is simple but layered. Based on the novel by Stephen King, the short version is that the titular character gets back all of the people who did her wrong (and some who didn’t) with newly discovered telekinetic powers of mass destruction. Carrie might not be the “It Gets Better” poster child, but she sure as hell has a lock on the “Payback is a Bitch” campaign.
But that’s just the surface of the story. The film – in all of its releases (including King’s novel) – also delves into what assholes people can be, how high school really never changes, and how confusing life can be when your body is changing at a young age. Aside from being just a great tale of revenge, the plight of Carrie White is a fascinating and tragic coming-of-age story with no happy ending.
Chloë Grace Moretz jumps into the role of Carrie this time around. I’ve heard and read that a major problem some people have is with the choice of Moretz is that she’s ‘too pretty’ to be this unassuming castaway, and to some degree I can see that. The two actors before her, Sissy Spacek in ‘76 and Angela Bettis in ’02, each have a look that fit well with the character. Cute but not pretty, even a bit homely. But where Moretz may fail at being mousy, it’s more than made up for in her performance. Being a fan of her work in Let Me In (a damn good reimagining in its own right) and Kick Ass, I knew she had the chops, but holy hell did she completely own this role. So much so, she’s the best Carrie yet. Her pain and anguish is so real that it damn near moved me. I was impressed with Moretz before, and her performance here solidifies that this young lady is the real deal.
Julianne Moore plays Carrie’s mother, and she too rocks out what she's been given. In the previous versions, Margaret White is not much more than a religious zealot relegated to just being the crazy mother figure. But here, Margaret is another kind of insane. Sure, she still makes Carrie go to her closet of faith when the girl disobeys her, but dear old mom also has this funny knack of jabbing sharp instruments into her leg and slapping herself in the face when things get a little stressful. This adds another level to what has bordered on a two-dimensional character in the past and Moore effectively and believably sells it.
The supporting cast brings it home, with solid performances all around. Yet even with an impressive group of actors, Judy Greer stands head and shoulders above all as the gym teacher Mrs. Desjardin. I've previously only been familiar with her hilarious work in Archer and Arrested Development, and here she is still funny, but amps it up with an unexpected level of compassion and mother-like protection to Carrie.
The film itself is an admirable third-telling of King's fantastic novel. It's about on par with the Sissy Spacek-driven version and is effectively updated for today's audience. For some of us, myself included, the '76 film is the better one, if only because it came first and there's not much that needed improved upon, although, it should be noted that the Billy Nolan character is handled much more accurately here. In the '76 adaptation, John Travolta portrayed Nolan as a big doofus as opposed to the sociopath he is in the book. It's something that's always bugged me about the first film that was handled substantially better in the TV version, and even more so here. No longer a goofball, this improved Nolan is a bundle of rage. I also enjoy the incorporated use of today's technology. The famous period-in-the-shower scene is still hard to watch, but it becomes downright painful when it's filmed on a cellphone and uploaded to YouTube.
In his review of Carrie, Ted closed with, “There are no surprises in Carrie, but it’s still a solid retelling of a classic story, and will almost certainly sit well with audiences approaching it for the first time,” and not only do I fully agree, I can't say it better here. Carrie (2013) was in a losing battle with the fans before it even premiered and time will be the best judge of how it holds up in the future. This reviewer thinks in the years to come it will be recognized as the solid horror it is.
Video and Audio:
Carrie's 1080p presentation is gorgeous. Since this is a horror film, the ever-important blacks are deep and lush. Colors pop for the most part, although they are a bit muted on occasion.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio has a wonderful use of the surrounds, and the subwoofer kicks appropriately.
- Alternate Ending Not Shown in Theaters
- Deleted/Alternate Scenes
- Creating Carrie
- The Power of Telekinesis
- Commentary by Director Kimberly Pierce
- Tina on Fire Stunt Double Dailies
- Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise
When you hit play on the Blu-ray, you are given the option of playing the theatrical cut or the version with the alternate ending not shown in theaters. This in theory is pretty good for a seamless experience, but it fails in execution because the alternate ending is horrible. It's very clearly an homage to the first outing of Carrie, but it ends up being hokey at best and abysmal at worst. Thank the horror gods that this wasn't the finale that was used.
There are nine deleted and alternate scenes with a total running time of about 10 minutes. There is nothing here that the film loses with these cuts, but there is one amusing scene with Carrie as a young girl talking to the neighbor that's definitely worth the watch.
At just over 21 minutes, the featurette Creating Carrie consists of interviews with the director and actors discussing the themes of the film and how the actors prepped for their roles.
The Power of Telekinesis is a four-minute self-explanatory piece.
Director Kimberly Pierce's commentary is a disappointment. She spends the majority of the time discussing what's taking place on screen and not delving much further. Unfortunately, it can be skipped altogether.
Even if it's one of the shortest of the special features, Tina on Fire Stunt Double Dailies is one of the cooler featurettes found on the Blu-ray. It's two-and-half minutes of behind-the-scenes action of the filming of Tina's BBQ at the prom.
The viral video made to bring attention to the film, Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise, is included here. It's a fun watch even for the third time.