The image of Sissy Spacek as a blood-drenched prom queen raining down terrible vengeance on a gym hall full of her tormentors was one of the most striking scenes of seventies cinema’s high winter of horror.
It was both a schlocky B-movie homage and a deeply unsettling pose that cut deep into the cliches of idealised American teen life and captured innocence lost with a confrontational glee.
In this faithful remake, director Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry, Stop Loss) faithfully re-creates Brian De Palma’s original Carrie and there are well-observed updates to suit modern mores and tech (social media is a force for bad again). But Carrie 2013 seems rather pointless, especially after a made for TV movie in 2002 and even a stage production of Stephen King’s 1974 novel.
However, 16-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz is great in the central role of Carrie White, the naïf who is repressed at home by her religious zealot mother and terrorised at school by her Mean Girls contemporaties. Moretz may not have any of Spacek’s ethereal fragility but she nails (as it were) Carrie’s mute confusion and fear perfectly.
Mother is played with real conviction by Julianne Moore. She channels Piper Laurie’s original dementia brilliantly and her face is like parchment etched with anger and mistrust at the modern world in a house of mouldering gloom, stuffed with religious iconography, and sharp objects which just may come in handy for our good girl gone evil.
At school, Carrie’s tormentors are lead by spoilt little bitch Chris (Portia Doubleday) who finds new avenues of cruelty to explore in the modern age. It's all enjoyable revenge-of-the-geek fare but is that enough for viewers jaded by teen movie cliché and Scary Movie satire?
De Palma's Carrie had genuine moments of atmospheric terror before horror made its headlong rush into cheap thrills. This Carrie is solid and watchable but has none of the sheer weirdness of the original.