Keep Calm And “Carrie” On

I’ve never seen the original “Carrie” movie. I’ve only gotten as far as the initial shower scene during a film class once, where I was the only female in attendance. The awkwardness of the situation was almost too much to handle—I never sought the movie out again after that. I knew the plot, though, and when the remake was released I thought, “What the hell, let’s see this thing!” I do love me some Chloe Moretz.

I’ve rarely experienced such an awkward and uncomfortable film opening in my life. It sets the stage for the movie perfectly though, as the audience watches Carrie’s mother (Julianne Moore) giving birth all alone in her house. Moore seems completely unaware of the fact that she’s even pregnant, and the resulting moans and prayers made me fidget in my seat, crossing and uncrossing my legs awkwardly as I looked away. Forget slasher flicks and torture—make me watch a birth scene and you’ll have me sobbing in fear.

But, awkward and gory as it was, it set the tone for the film perfectly: eery, bloody, and a little painful to watch.

Fast forward to the infamous “shower scene” where Carrie experiences her first period while in the gym class locker room. All girls everywhere have to feel for Carrie—I don’t know about you, but even though I actually knew what a period was, I wanted to writhe around and scream the first time it happened to me too. The pack mentality of the girls was perfect. Where the first film has them blindly attack, the reboot starts with an innocent enough gesture, and then as teen girls are known to do, they got overly pleased with themselves and got carried away. (Pun intended).

While some characters in the film (notably Carrie, her mother, and the gym teacher) portrayed great character depth and dimension, others fell more than flat. By far the most complex figure in the film, Moore portrayed Carrie’s mother as a self-harming, lonely religious fanatic. While one scene would have her force Carrie into a closet to pray away her sins, in the next she would stroke her head and braid her hair with a gentleness and love that only a mother could possess. It would have been easy to dismiss the character as a religious nut bag and played it accordingly—but Moore brought a depth and motivation to the character that is surprising.

Take this in comparison to the main villain, mean girl Chris, who in her spite and rage and bitchiness is so one-dimensional that she serves no other role in the movie other than to be the person everyone roots for to die first. Don’t get me wrong—we’ve all known these girls. But to watch her alongside the conflicted and confused Carrie, she falls flat and feels out of place in the otherwise dynamic film.

The film offers intriguing and contrasting views of feminity and empowerment. While Carrie’s mother associates Carrie’s burgeoning maturity and womanhood with sin and impurity, the powers that come along with her puberty give Carrie abilities to fight against those who have hurt her.

“Please don’t hurt me,” one character begs of her. Deadpan, Carrie looks back. “Why? People have been hurting me all my life.”

It’s that knowledge that leaves audiences rooting for Carrie to finish her mass destruction and fly off into the sunset. But the whole point of the movie is that you don’t exactly get happy endings.

Will “Carrie” leave you unable to sleep at night? Absolutely not. But will it leave you feeling satisfied as you leave the theatre? Absolutely.

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