Scarce supply of suspense, character expansion in ‘Carrie’

Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore work well together, portraying a believable, troubled family in “Carrie.”  (Photo provided by carrie-movie.com)
Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore work well together, portraying a believable, troubled family in “Carrie.” (Photo provided by carrie-movie.com)

“Carrie,” based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Stephen King, is a predictable horror film. In fact, there is no point in the film seems scary.

For a movie billed in the horror genre, it fails to elicit a terrifying atmosphere. Much of the movie seems like slow padding as it draws to the final scenes. The payoff is a couple of brief scenes meant to be the scariest point in the film, but comes off as pathetic, offering nothing new or interesting to the genre.

The film centers on Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz, “Kick-Ass 2”), a quiet girl brought up by an overly religious mother (Julianne Moore, “Don Jon”).

Carrie is bullied at her school by popular girl Chris (Portia Doubleday, “K-11”) and her friends. One of these girls, Sue (Gabriella Wilde, “Dark Horse”), begins to feel remorse and asks her boyfriend to take Carrie to the prom instead of herself as repentance. Chris goes too far with her bullying and becomes banned from prom, blaming Carrie. During these events Carrie begins to develop telekinesis, researching and practicing her new abilities. Upon learning Carrie has developed these powers, her mother comes to view her as a devil. Things come to a climax at the prom after Chris pulls a prank on Carrie for revenge, causing Carrie to lose control.

The film has a long build, establishing the religious upbringing and bullying Carrie has been subjected to. None of the characters seem relatable. Many are just one note and seem to be acting the way they do for the convenience of the plot. Situations in high school life are overblown and exaggerated. Though the film might need to have these situations to tell the story, the film shows no subtlety, choosing rather to throw events at the viewer and make them feel bad for Carrie. The sudden guilt felt by Sue seems to come from nowhere.

One moment she is with her friends picking on Carrie, and suddenly she feels guilty. The rest of the film is spent trying to make the audience believe this change, though she has no reason to, and Wilde does a poor job conveying the change.

The horror elements are severely lacking. Until the prom there are only occasional jump scares. The deaths are boring and unimaginative, missing several opportunities to make use of the telekinesis premise in creative ways.

These moments happen too quickly as well. Carrie ruthlessly takes her revenge on the school, and quickly moves from one target to the next without any sign of remorse. The problem is there is no build-up for these deaths. Many of those killed just happen to be Chris’s friends, and aside from picking on Carrie, never receive development. After the prom the film tries to make viewers sympathize with Carrie, by making them believe that she feels guilty about what she has done. This is weak as well, due to the violent nature of her kills, and the fact that she never shows any hesitation while committing them. Many of her kills require at least some planning and the use of her telekinesis to pull off. This renders the audience incapable of sympathy at this point.

The powers that Carrie possesses remain largely unexplained through the film. It is clear she has telekinesis, but manifests several other powers that have nothing to do with this ability and remain unexplained. How she got telekinesis remains a mystery as well. The film offers several possibilities, but never clearly says how Carrie’s powers manifested.

There are some good points to the film, however. Moretz does a good job portraying the torment Carrie feels, and specifically the rage and insanity Carrie goes through at the prom. Moore is perfect as the deranged religious mother, but is given very little to do throughout the film.

If one were to look at Carrie as an example of what could happen if bullying were taken too far, and those bullied had power to fight back, it becomes a more bearable movie. It is an interesting study into how misconceptions, bullying at school and an oppressive household can create a monster. Audiences expecting a good horror film will be disappointed. Fans of Stephen King would be best served reading the novel instead.

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