Review: “Carrie” Can’t Compete Against Similar Films

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Carrie is the story of a young girl with powers, her religious mother, and every single high school movie about teenage girls since the 90’s. Though the movie tries to answer the big questions like “Why are periods so nasty?” and “Why do teenage girls like sex so much?”, it’s distracted not only by how stupid those questions are but also by montages of people getting ready for prom.

The movie gets straight to the point by opening with Carrie’s mother (Julianne Moore) giving birth to Carrie. After we set up who the characters are, and that this movie is about how gross and crazy women are, we cut to 18 years later. Carrie is an outcast in high school and is picked on. She gets her period in class but is sheltered, and doesn’t know what’s happening. The other girls pick on her, one named Chris (Porta Doubleday) in particular. Carrie’s gym teacher Ms. Desjardin (Judy Greer) comes to her rescue and tries to punish the bullies, though a principle who’s awkward about women stands in her way.

What you’re left with is a movie that’s stuck somewhere between horror movie, and a film like Mean Girls or 10 Things I Hate About You. It awkwardly flips between pointing out how terrifying it thinks religion is, how weird teenage girls are and how super totally awesome prom is. It tries for laughs but I felt the attempts at jokes were scarier than someone being snapped in half by bleacher (which happens).

I got the feeling that the people working on the movie thought they were making something about being a “strong woman” – a film up there with Alien, or Terminator 2: Judgment Day. But they also thought it was a good idea to have their comic relief be a man who can’t talk about periods. The villain being oversexed and clingy is the only trait besides being a bully that we’re shown, while the relatively chaste Carrie is our protagonist, despite being a murderer by the end of the film.

The writing flops between being ridiculously direct: “[Carrie], try to be a whole person,” to just strange and uncomfortable: “They’re called breasts, momma. Every woman has them.” The acting is decent, but was weighed down by an uninspired writer and an inexperienced director. The design and special effects had me interested but I spent so long waiting for them that by the time they were showcased, they felt flat and glossy.

The movie was trying to get across some sort of message, but it was so jumbled and unfocused that I couldn’t figure out what it was trying to get at. If it was a mixture of bullying and super powers, the 2012 film Chronicle already did that in a way that made you actually feel for the characters. If their point was “being a teenage girl is hard”, you have a handful of movies that tackle that without the anti-women undertones. “Being a woman is scary” was already covered fully by Rosemary’s Baby. If all Carrie really wanted was to be frightening than it failed at that most of all.