The only person who will have nightmares about this version of Carrie is Stephen King. Most of the impressive elements of the film are basic themes and big plot points for which King's book deserves the credit.
Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is the daughter of Margaret White (Julianne Moore), a frighteningly religious single mother. Already an outcast, Carrie becomes the laughingstock of her school when she is tormented by Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), a ruthless, self-righteous bully. Carrie seeks revenge on her cruel classmates when she develops her newly discovered telekinetic powers.
The pacing is far too quick, so the story seems incredibly rushed. Carrie's powers become apparent early on in the film, and she masters them almost immediately with little explanation other than a short scene of her reading books on telekinesis. There is hardly any buildup, which weakens King's infamous prom scene.
Every script problem imaginable is present, from bad pacing to poor character development. The dialogue is unrealistic and cheesy, making the characters less believable, and the horror is superficial, dwelling on Carrie's powers instead of focusing on the evolution of her character. The film feels like a 99-minute, R-rated Goosebumps episode instead of a Stephen King classic.
Chronicle, 2012's found-footage sci-fi film, is a rip-off that arguably plagiarized King's book, but even that film did a better job of exploring the use of telekinesis for revenge than this Carrie does, with far more believable characters and a distinctive cinematic style.
Director Kimberly Peirce introduces a few horror aesthetics, sticking to blood as a dominating visual motif and tilting a Dutch angle until the shot is completely on its side. It is not even comparable to visual masterpieces based on King's work such as Stanley Kubrick's The Shining though.
One of Peirce's worst stylistic choices is a montage of students picking out prom clothes to Vampire Weekend's Diane Young. The scene and the song choice both feel out of place because Carrie is not supposed to be a prom movie. It is supposed to be a horror movie about a prom. The target audience of this version is blatantly 2013 teenagers, and the film lacks the timeless quality of King's classic revenge story.
Though Moretz might be prettier than King intended for Carrie, she acts well to make her appearance versatile. Choosing her was smart casting. Sadly, she also overacts throughout the film, and Moore's acting is no better. The script sets the entire cast up for failure.
Good horror is becoming inexplicably but undeniably scarce, and while viewers will be entertained, this film is a sad excuse for horror. Carrie is a fun Halloween movie for older teens but an overall disappointment. It never goes full drama or full horror, instead occupying an awkward middle ground.
Mark Mukherjee is a senior at King High.