Carrie (Blu-ray Review)

While I’m a huge Stephen King fan, Carrie is oddly one of his novels that I’ve never read for some strange reason as I think about it now.  Well, that’s definitely going to get added to the bucket list.  I can’t die with that on my conscious.  But anyway, that kind of preludes as to why we are all gathered here today to discuss the “re-imagining” of the 1976 film I guess you can say.  Now hold up!  I know how people feel about the subject of re-imaginings or reboots.  We’ve all been there and done this countless more times than we care to admit in the horror genre so that’s why I’m going to forgo making any and all references between this and the 1976 film that horror fans adore so much.  There’s no sense in getting into any heated arguments or debates about the taboo topic.  Whether you are okay with it or not, you just have to get over the fact that it’s already done and in the can so to speak.  ‘Carrie 2013’ has happened and there’s nothing you or I can do about it now.  And while I promise to keep my opinion under wraps between the comparison of the two films, I’m just thankful that going into this one of my favorite young actresses is in the lead role.  So with that in mind, I promised myself to keep an “open mind” during my first viewing of Carrie (2013), which just so happens to be this Blu-ray review.  And here we go…

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So I honestly feel it’s pretty much safe to assume that unless you are 13-years old, you are reading this Blu-ray review either because you are curious as to whether this “re-make” is a stinker or maybe you have seen it and like it and want to know what the Blu-ray presentation of it is all about, BUT you have all at least seen the original 1976 Brian De Palma film.  Am I right?  Well, despite what they say about making assumptions in life, I’m just going to roll with that one here.  And like I said up above before, the Carrie we are discussing today here is for all intent and purposes and lack of a better word a “re-make” of the classic film, but from what I read I’m led to believe it is also closer in line with King’s 1974 novel of the same name.  That one I cannot guarantee whether it is true or not because as I shamefully admitted above, I have not read it yet.  Soon though I’ll be able to make those comparisons.  Until then, however, I’ll just roll with the fact that what I have read may be true.

And as we all already know, Carrie is a classic horror tale about a shy girl named Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz), not a relative of mine, who is outcasted by her peers and sheltered by her overly religious mom (Julianne Moore).  However, overly religious is an understatement, but I digress.  She later unleashes her freakish telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.  Poor Carrie.  Almost 40 years later and somethings never change, huh?

This version of Carrie was directed by Kimberly Pierce from a screenplay by Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa.  In addition to the two main billing stars I mentioned above, the film also includes the talents of Judy Greer, Portia Doubleday, Alex Russell and Gabriella Wilde.  And while looking at the big picture, audience and critic reactions seem to be almost split down the middle here.  So as I proceed into my next couple paragraphs below, I want you to remember one thing.  I’m reviewing this film like I know nothing of its predecessor.  There will be no comparisons made to the 1976 film and most importantly, my film score above solely represents the quality of this 2013 adapted story and onscreen presentation of it, nothing else and nothing more.  I think that’s totally fair.

So here we are with my thoughts about what I just watched.  I really don’t think people are going to be happy with me here.  I did not hate it or ridicule it for all the same reasons as my peers did.  Yes, I’ll be honest with you all.  More than once I found myself comparing it to the original Carrie film with which I promised myself over and over I would not do.  I could not help it.  This reincarnation of Carrie plays it very safe.  I mean come on.  This film is rated R, and for good reasons too.  But you mean to tell me everyone is fully clothed in the girls locker room outside of the shower?  Come on!  I don’t buy that for one minute at all (says Herbert the Pervert).  LOL.

Now I mentioned the word “safe” up above.  To me, that’s exactly what this feature is.  It’s your every day kind of Final Destination-like, teeny bopper film that just so happens to have the very plausible R-rating attached to it, and I’m at least thankful for that.  But Carrie serves no purpose other than just to be strictly another modern day version of a classic we all grew up on in our childhood for studio cash cow purposes only.  I say we all like you are all my age, but you know what I mean.  As I sat there watching this I could not help to be reminded of how Chloe was also casted in another recently famous role when she landing the leading part in Let Me In, the remake of the much more superior film Let The Right One In.   And I thought to myself.  You know what?  Not much has changed for Chloe.  While I love her as an actress, I think I like to see her in more challenging roles like Hick outside of these drabs like Dark Shadows and other films as of late.  Let’s face it, this girl has a lot of talent.  And while I feel she was appropriately casted in Carrie here simply because of her awkwardness, I would really love to see her really step out from these cliche films and into something big, bold and beautiful.  Mister Genie…please make that one of my three wishes.

Well, nevertheless, there’s no denying that the people behind this remake did what they sought out to do.  Via combined box office here and overseas, Carrie was indeed a small money maker for MGM.  But perhaps what really held my interest here was the dynamic and conflicting relationship between Carrie and her mother, played by Julianne Moore.  Now you’ll never really hear me say that someone outperformed Chloe in other films, but here I do believe that is the case.  If there is any saving grace for movie fans to relish and enjoy about this remake, Julianne is the single most important in my opinion.  She was spot on perfect in her role as an obsessive, religious b1tch, who I definitely would not want for my mom and I doubt you would either.  Throughout her fits of rage, scratching herself and whatnot, Julianne delivered each eccentric line with sheer conviction and even hit multiple home runs with just her nonverbal expressions alone.  She’s pale and fragile much like her character also was in 2013’s Don Jon, but man is she ever a crazy beeotch here.  And I’ll tell you what.  Because of the simplified, teenage plot here, this story really needed Julianne Moore to amp things up and take things to a whole new level.  I could have watched two hours of just Chloe and Julianne going back and forth, but unfortunately that’s not the story we are dealt here.  You all know what has to go down.

Let’s be honest with each other again.  This is a hard one to tackle.  First you are trying to redo one of the most influential horror movies ever made from a female character standpoint.  And second, it’s a tragedy story set in a teenage universe.  So you’re going to have your dose of bad actors here and there.  However, I did like Ansel Elgort in the role of Tommy, Sue Snell’s (Gabriella Wilde) boyfriend.  I think I he juggled the dynamic of jock/good guy very well.  While on the other spectrum, the lead b1tch I guess you could call her, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), really didn’t sell me on her performance.  It’s like she had an extremely hard time conveying or expression emotion even in moments of extreme hate.  But nevertheless, it’s the timeless story of Carrie we are all here for.  Did the filmmakers succeed in bringing the story to life?  Yes, they did.  Did they add anything extra or really go the extra mile to make it their own and prove this was a necessary remake?  In small doses only, but overall I don’t believe they did.  Like I said before, this just feels like a modern day version put on the big screen as a quick cash grab.  I did like Chloe as Carrie, but let’s face it.  This story has been told before.  What if they could have done something bigger, bolder and more ambitious and change things up ever so slightly (other than the actual going to prom scene)?  Now you’re talking and I bet you others’ attention too, huh?  Whatever your opinion is, it’s yours.  I have faults with this film, but for the most part I enjoyed myself with it and I welcome it into my Blu-ray collection as lucky number #559.  I felt everything was handled properly, but everything good the movie had building up and going for it story-wise seemingly fell a bit flat towards the end once the prank at the prom was fully engaged and Carrie unleashed her rage, which felt more like directed vengeance than anything else.  But let’s face it, no matter what character you were in this film, if you were near Carrie on prom night, it was definitely a tragic time for you.  Thank God that doesn’t have to be the case with the video, audio and special features departments in this Blu-ray release.  Come on!  I’ll show you safely around!

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Despite what you think about the feature film discussed above, let me tell you, things are in check here in the video department.  MGM/Fox brings Carrie to the Blu-ray format with a pretty meticulous 1080p cut rendered on a 50GB Blu-ray disc with a MPEG-4 AVC encode @28 MBPS framed in a 2.35:1 widescreen aspect ratio.  Right off the bat I wanted to start drafting my review by saying the colors are rather muted and drab, but wait!  That’s intentional.  We’re in the White house after all.  Things aren’t all sunshine and lollipops in there.  Wait until we get outdoors.  The brightly lit exteriors are crazy vibrant and razor sharp.  The turf on the high school football field looked so real like you could reach out and touch it.  So yeah!  We have that three-dimensional pop thing going on in here.  Black levels are all deep and inky and skin tones all look natural, even though we are talking about the ghostly white Julianne Moore.  Speaking of Moore, all her freckles are on display here.  Actually, fine detail is all abound here from unruly strands of hair, pores, carpet fabric, wood splinters and more.  There are no visible signs of blemishes, specks of dirt, noise or anything unwanted in the print.  For the most part, things are perfect here.

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While I found a couple things to nitpick in regards to the video, I can’t find a damn thing to “rag” on within the audio department.  Instead, all I am left with are comments of praise.  Believe it or not, things are loud and bombastic in this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track.  And why shouldn’t they be?  This movie’s all about Carrie’s fits of rage, isn’t it?  In addition to an intriguing score I love all the little things that snoops in the surrounds like simple ambiences such as creaks in the house.  However, the thing I love most about this track though is the aggressive use of the subwoofer channel.  It gets quite a workout here.  One of my favorite scenes is when Carrie’s mind cracks the closet door her mom locks her in.  My dog could not find a place to lay down with this track booming in the background.  Half way through she gave up and exited the room.  It did get quite loud during Carrie’s fits of telekinesis rage and especially during the after prom chaos that ensues.  Dialog is all loud, clear and intelligible throughout.  Simply put, this is just an awesome and powerful track.  I’m sold on it!  Also, selectable from the main menu are selections for Spanish and French Dolby Digital 5.1 audio surround tracks as well as English and Spanish subtitles.

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Let’s say perhaps you weren’t the biggest fan of this above re-imagining.  Would that stop you from taking in all the extras goodies here in this release?  While it’s definitely not Hobbit Extended size, you do get quite a fair share of supplements if you dug what you saw in the feature and wanted some more of Carrie.  In addition to a commentary track with Director Kimberly Peirce and the feature film presented with an alternate ending, you also get over an hour worth of supplements ranging from deleted and extended scenes to a telekinetic viral video.  I think you’ll find more than you bargained for here and this stuff will definitely keep you busy for hours.  But don’t take my word for it.  Let’s dive deeper into the minds behind Carrie and check out everything that’s in store and waiting for you to tackle in the special features department here.

  • Commentary – Here MGM/Fox gives you the ability to watch the feature with audio commentary from director Kimberly Peirce.  If you’re a fan of the film, then you know you belong here.
  • Feature Film With Alternate Ending (HD, 1:40:56) – This obviously a slightly different ending not shown in theaters, but I will let you be the judge of what you like better.  Sadly, there’s not a way to play this feature elsewhere in the Extras department other than selecting it when you hit Play to play the main feature.  So you will either have to fast forward, skip to the end or sit through the whole flick again.  The choice is yours.
  • Creating Carrie (HD, 21:07) – Here’s a nice making of featurette that’s pretty much my favorite thing here in the Special Features department.  This one starts out commending the book that King wrote and how timeless it is because it’s a coming of age story.  The director felt there was a way to make this movie differently from the original film.  I’m not sure how much I buy that one.  LOL.  She wanted something emotionally richer than just a mere horror story.  Okay.  I can buy that.  She had Chloe go to women who were beaten shelters because she wanted her to know what it’s like for people who really have hard lives.  Julianne Moore also confesses her fondness for Chloe and vice versa.  That’s right folks, these two women are the main reason this films keeps it together in my opinion.  They are the peanut butter and jelly of this flick.  Of course, there’s a lot more, but that’s up for you to tackle here along with the audio commentary above.  I do kind of like the research of the blood dump.  LOL.  But was it really necessary to use both takes?  One thousand gallons of blood were used to make this movie.  That’s kind of cool, huh?
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes (HD, 10:18) – There are a total of 9 deleted/extended scenes with optional commentary by director Kimberly Peirce.  They include “Hail,” “Chris and Tina Kiss,” “Billy’s Wild Ride,” “Carrie Levitates Margaret,” “Drive To Pig Farm,” “Carrie and Tommy Kiss,” “Billy Kisses Chris,” “Margaret Cuts Herself” and “Tina on Fire.”  That’s a lot of kisses in these, huh?
  • Tina on Fire Stunt Double Dailies (HD, 2:18) – There’s an optional director commentary track for this one too.  You kind of need it as there’s no sound here unless you like watching someone get lit on fire and people extinguishing her over and over.  This one is dumb in my opinion.
  • The Power of Telekinesis (HD, 4:02) – I thought this one would be cool going into it, but all it’s all just clips from the film and the cast and crew saying whether they believe in telekinesis or not.  I thought this would be a myth busting like featurette, but boy was I ever wrong.
  • Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise (HD, 2:39) – This one is a bit odd to have here.  This is actually a NYC prank in a coffee shop where a girl freaks out after getting coffee spilled on her laptop in a Carrie-like fashion.  It’s ind of like an episode of Jackass to say the least.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:56) – I think you all know what this one is.
  • UltraViolet Digital HD (HD, 100 minutes) – Sadly, there’s no iTunes Digital Copy included here, not even a Standard Definition one as Fox has been unfortunately providing as of late.  But there is an UltraViolet Digital HD code to redeem here!  If you’re a fan of the film, these actually work really swell now the HD streaming on the iPad through the Flixter app and/or HDX streaming with the Vudu app on the Playstation 3.
  • DVD (SD) – Finally, we have the second included disc that you can bring in the minivan so the kiddies can be entertained in the backseat on those long drives.

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Oh wow!  You made it this far, huh?  Well, I guess there’s a reason you are here then.  You’re a fan!  Good!  You’re in the right place!  I have a pre-order link for you down below.  If you are unsure of whether or not this movie should have been made in the first place, then you’re in luck too!  There’s a Redbox near you somewhere and/or digital retailers that will allow you to rent this feature come Tuesday.  There’s no denying that Chloe looks like Emperor Palpatine and Yoda combined as she manipulates the “Force” in bending inanimate and animate objects to her liking, but thank God the CG all looks good.  That much I can safely say.  But that’s just it.  The magic word is “safe.”  Safe doesn’t mean bad, but it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily good either when going against the question as to whether or not this remake should have been made in the first place much like die hard fans of Total Recall blasted the recent reincarnation.  Thankfully I enjoyed this one much more than the latter.  I was able to hang in with this one due to the strong performances by Julianne and Chloe in a modern day retelling of a classic tale complete with a rock solid audio and video package and enough extras to keep you busy for an hour or more depending upon your level of interest.  And that’s just it.  This all revolves around your level of interest.  This rendition was just above average for me, but that’s not saying much either, is it?

Carrie comes out of her house on Blu-ray January 14th so make sure you pre-order today here.

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2 Responses to “Carrie (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Aaron Neuwirth

    Bad movie.
    With that said, that alternate ending almost saves it….well it doesn’t, but it’s so wild I can’t see why it wouldn’t be used compared to the film’s boring ending. What did they have to lose?

  2. Brandon Peters

    Yup, bad bad movie. I’m struggling as to whether I think this is better than the TV remake or The Rage: Carrie 2. If it is…its by the flip of a coin.