In any even semi-faithful remake of the revenge-of-the-bullied horror classic Carrie, barring some perversely sanitized model, there will be blood. And director Kimberly (Boys Don’t Cry) Peirce gives us plenty of the stuff — of the human, pig, and biblical varieties — in her spooky-cool remake of director Brian De Palma’s 1976 cinematic vivification of the Stephen King novel. But wait, there’s more, including a cunning mix of fidelity to the King source and the De Palma film we know, love, and love to cringe at; artistic touches of this director’s own devising; and some sobering contemporary-life connections involving bullying in the social-media and post-Columbine age.
Did we mention Julianne Moore? Moore, no stranger to the bloody, half-pulpy turf of arty horror flicks (who can forget her brainy dinner scene in Hannibal?), gives us a scarily fine and troubled performance, playing a disturbed, man-hating über-fundamentalist Christian giving birth to Carrie in an archetypal haunted house. Fast forward to the soul-testing purgatory of high school, and the stage is set for some righteous vengeance and supernatural powers, especially come prom time.
Carrie’s Carrie, star-material teen Chloë Grace Moretz, is something extra special to behold, particularly considering the high-caliber precedent laid down by the awesome Sissy Spacek in the original. Moretz summons up a wicked cool and necessary blend of adolescent vulnerability, self-discovery, and reckoning power. You gotta love her, even during — or especially during — her orgiastic prom revenge. A lesson learned: Be careful who you bully, kids.
There are chilling moments of the more real-worldly kind attached, by historical association, with the 2013 version and not the 1976 model, such as the pernicious power of smart-phone sadism as a tool of bullying and the tragic list of school shootings in the past several years. In the wake of such data, we can take comfort in the supernatural hyperbole and the darkly funny winks of horror-film kitsch in-jokes, reminding us that the new Carrie is, after all, just a movie — with fake blood to spare.