Sunday, January 19, 2014

Carrie (2013)

One of the biggest issues with Kimberley Peirce's film adaptation of Stephen King's "Carrie" is that it appears to be assuming that everyone watching the film has read the book or watched Brian De Palma's 1976 film. Right from the opening scene where Julianne Moore's Margaret is seen writhing in pain, oblivious to the fact that she is in labour, the film comes across as too eager to get to the parts which are now considered iconic. Often, when a major character is to be introduced, the camera slows down and some character off screen utters their full name loud and clear. Carry White. Sue Snell. Tommy Ross. Chris Hargensen. Yeah. That's the quality of writing you can expect from this film.

Opting to not be faithful to a source material is one thing, but dismissing the elements that made it work in the first place is asking for trouble. "Carrie" had an obligation to retain the small town-ness of its source material- the safety of a sleepy neighborhood where all the families knew each other and all their kids went to the same school. Instead of taking place in Chamberlain, Maine like the novel, "Carrie" is set in some anonymous, character-less part of America. 

I haven't watched De Palma's version, but having read the novel, I know that even though the entire story pivots around one Carrie White incident, it is more about the aftermath of something so bizarre. The problem with this film is that it doesn't give the mayhem at Carrie's Senior Year prom night the legendariness it deserves. It plays out like this was just another event happening in a world which has witnessed a series of supernatural occurrences. Even when a moody Carrie inadvertently breaks stuff in the presence of others, nobody seems to find anything odd about it. 

Evident from the final shot, all this film aspires to be is a cheap horror film clubbed with the trivial bitching fit for a "Mean Girls" movie. Even though the actors are committed, the way the film is directed does no justice to whatever performance they come up with. It's almost embarrassing to see someone like Julianne Moore being reduced to hamming like that. Judy Greer plays the PE teacher who hangs out in the washroom like the ghost from Harry Potter because that's what PE teachers do. She even uses words like 'dreamy' to describe one of her male students to Carrie. Who talks like that? PE teachers do.

The only bit of modernization Peirce does is adding mobile phones ensuring that Carrie's day of embarrassment in the showers gets viewed by more people. Besides that, the film is very unimaginative and doesn't have anything new to offer. It tries to pander to the Twlight generation and be more hip by throwing in some random songs by Passion Pit, Vampire Weekend, Haim and Cults, but only manages to look worse. 

If the idea was to re-imagine a classic novel which already had a classic film adaptation, "Carrie" should have come up with a narrative that significantly dealt with the aftermath. It should have included interviews with people who were affected by the incident and the rulings of the White Commisson which so often gets mentioned in the book. It needed to do more myth-building. This "Carrie" definitely eats shit.