A cool blend of contemporary & retro culture

Carrie kills it in the postmodern horror stakes

When classic horror films get the remake treatment, they often fall short of one simple thing: a certain nonchalance of the original bordered on naivete. Take the examples of Prom Night and Nightmare On Elm Street. Yes, both films were very much in-your-face in their original guise but when these originals were produced, it seemed the directors didn’t have so big an evil carrot waived in front of them – that highly coveted blockbuster dollar.

Rather, the likes of Paul Lynch (Prom) and Wes Craven (Elm Street) appeared to have three aims with their initial movies – to scare, shock and entertain. The success of the originals naturally lead to sequels and as each one was released, more focus was placed on ‘out-doing’ the box office records of the previous films, and less placed on quality horror delivery.

Not so with the remake of Carrie. While the revised version of this horror classic maintains some of the elements that made the original so riveting (the soft-porn-like shower scenes; the overblown disastrous end-scenes), new Carrie refuses to cushion any of its edge for potentially sensitive audiences – in fact goes all-out in the blood-and-gore department – and nor does it try to adapt too obviously to suit a modern market. In fact, besides a bit of mobile phone video-ing and posting of a clip onto Youtube, the new version of Carrie could still be posited in the early ’80s. Even some of the fashions have a definitive retro bent.

The plot is as simplistic as it was back then, too: girl is picked on at school, starts to realise she has telekinetic powers that she can use to her vengeful advantage, is invited to the prom by a kind guy who is actually already in a relationship, thinks she’s being fooled, then sees to it that all hell breaks loose.

Where new Carrie differs is in two areas. Firstly, it is directed by a woman – Kimberly Peirce, who directed Oscar-winning Boys Don’t Cry – so to see a woman director with a ‘serious’ notch under her belt take on a story where two females are in constant battle with each other (Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role at constant loggerheads with her hardcore Christian mother – played superbly by Julianne Moore) is an interesting study in postfeminist semiotics. Indeed, undergrad gender studies students should be having a field day analysing this film.

Secondly, new Carrie goes where no horror film before it has gone – its protagonist-come-antagonist is so unapologetic in her vengefulness and resulting bloodshed, that the viewer is almost overwhelmed watching her rid of her enemies so quickly one by one. And the manner in which each one is ‘checklisted’ is fresh in itself (watch out for the crashing death scene of the main villain in the film – so original, it hurts).

This is one particular horror film that deserves to be posited in a genre that much higher than basic ‘schlock’. Its subplots run so deep, in fact, it could well be branded a postmodern classic alongside the modern original it was based on.

I, for one, can’t wait to watch it a few more times.


Carrie is in cinemas now. To view the trailer, click on the image below.

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