A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Carrie is the newest adaptation of Stephen King's best-selling 1974 horror novel of the same name. Director Kimberly Peirce focuses even more on the bullying angle than her 1976 predecessor Brian De Palma, and the violent sequences are even bloodier: people are impaled, burned, stabbed, and bludgeoned to death; and a mother physically and emotionally abuses her daughter. The humiliation is also just as disturbing: Carrie is ruthlessly ridiculed and even recorded/photographed for being so upset at her first menstruation, and in the film's climax a vicious prank leads to her being covered in pig's blood. Although there's no nudity in the locker room scene, girls do appear in towels or just their bras and panties. There's also a good bit of passionate kissing as well as one sex scene between teens and some underage drinking.
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What's the story?
Director Kimberly Peirce's modernization of Carrie, Stephen King's iconic high school horror novel, is a pretty faithful to the book. In small Chamberlain, Maine, formerly home-schooled misfit Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) attempts to keep to herself until the unfortunate day when she gets her first period in the girls' locker room. Instead of quietly helping her, the girls in her gym class play a cruel trick on her, and even record her frightened reaction for school-wide consumption. Feeling remorseful, popular girl Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde), convinces her lacrosse star boyfriend Danny (Ansel Elgort) to ask Carrie to prom. But Carrie's abusive zealot of a mother (Julianne Moore) wants her to decline the invitation and repent for "becoming a woman." Meanwhile, Carrie starts to recognize that she has telekinetic powers, and a sadistic mean girl plans to once again publicly humiliate the social outcast.
Is it any good?
It's hard to argue in favor of a remake, especially one of a movie that's considered a classic in its genre. Most of the time, nothing good will come of it, but Peirce does a decent if not novel job at updating De Palma's signature '70s teen horror flick. Much is the same -- the oppressively religious mother, the cruelty of teenage girls, the well-meaning P.E. teacher (played this time by character actress Judy Greer) -- just as King described it. If anything, thanks to today's obsession with social media, the bullying is even more pronounced and disturbing and widespread.
Peirce doesn't shy away from the power of burgeoning adolescent sexuality, but then again, it's not like De Palma glossed over it either. A feminist filmmaker, she makes sure this Carrie isn't just a startled victim to her own powers; Moretz' protagonist owns her abilities, delights in them. When she's enacting her bloody vengeance, Carrie is often half smiling. The performances are good (Moore manages to portray Margaret White as more frightened than crazy), and the story still resonates, but the greater question remains, why remake Carrie when the original is considered so definitive? At least this new version will make Facebook-age teens think about the figurative if not literal horrors of high school humiliation and bullying.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie can be considered a cautionary tale to high-school bullying. Is the sort of bullying depicted in the movie realistic, or is it over the top? Does the school handle the bullying incident appropriately?
How is coming of age and sexuality portrayed in the movie? Who in the movie has a healthy attitude toward adolescent sexuality? What are Mrs. White's thoughts on sexuality?
Does seeing the movie make you interested in reading Stephen King's book? Those who've read the book: Do you consider this version a faithful adaptation? How does it compare to the Brian de Palma version?
- In theaters: October 18, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: January 14, 2014
- Cast: Chloe Grace Moretz, Judy Greer, Julianne Moore
- Director: Kimberly Peirce
- Studio: Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Horror
- Topics: Misfits and Underdogs
- Run time: 100 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content
- Last updated: November 24, 2019
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