It’s been decades since the original movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Carrie was released, but there’s a new murderous prom queen in town. Chloë Grace Moretz plays the eponymous role in the new adaptation. And as any horror fan will tell you, the tale is full of tried and true tropes that deal with growing up. In fact, most of these themes are recognizable in any Glee plotline, except Carrie definitely doesn’t end with a sing-a-long.
If you don’t know who Moretz is, you’re probably wrong – she’s everywhere. You could have watched her guest appearance on 30 Rock, or saw her opposite Nicolas Cage in the Kick-Ass series as Hit-Girl. Perhaps you saw her play the wise younger sister in (500) Days of Summer. Not into Zooey Deschanel movies? Maybe you saw Hugo for your RTVF 220 class. If your tastes favor the scarier stuff, Let Me In featured Moretz as an unsparkly vampire.
And now, with Carrie, Moretz has done it again. Carrie is the story of a teenager who is bullied by her peers and abused by her religious extremist mother. Oh, she also has telekinetic powers that wreak havoc when she’s overpowered with emotion. In what seems like the start of a happier life for Carrie, she’s asked to prom by one of the most popular boys in school. There’s even a makeover scene. She wears a pretty dress. She’s crowned prom queen.
Then, she gives a wonderful, heartfelt speech about how everyone is special. She symbolically breaks her glittery plastic crown so she can distribute the pieces to her peers. Just kidding – she’s actually doused in a fresh bucket of pig’s blood. Then she uses her telekinesis to kill everyone and burn prom to the ground.
Fans of the 1976 version will probably dislike this polished adaptation. Lots of scenes look like they were filmed with the aesthetic of Gossip Girl in mind – something that was probably unavoidable with the symmetrical faces of the new cast and the quick flashes of their candy-colored smartphones. However, whether or not you favor the 1976 adaptation, it’s clear that King’s iconic character has withstood the test of time. The added details of characters using updated technology is still a nice touch. When Carrie is ridiculed in the beginning of the movie, it’s recorded and uploaded online. This rings true to real-life instances of bullying, after all. It’s hard to keep yourself from rooting for her.
When we spoke with Moretz, 16, she was quick to use metaphors when explaining her complex titular role.
“When you’re pushed that far, you become an animal... and you eventually lose the characteristics that make you a human,” Moretz says of her character’s final breakdown.
The remake focuses particularly on the unhealthy relationship Carrie has with her mother, Margaret, played by Julianne Moore. Parents can be annoying, but Carrie’s mom is on a different planet. Moore is convincing, and you can catch a glimpse of her character’s chilling nature in scenes in which she’s commanding Carrie to recite false Bible passages or locking her up in a closet. Margaret White isn’t a regular mom, she’s a crazy mom.
Conveying this trauma required some research for Moretz. “I’ve met a lot of girls like Carrie and spent a lot of time with girls like Carrie. And the common factor is that they lose emotion,” she explained, mentioning that she met with victims of abuse to understand the intricate mother-daughter relationship in the film.
Despite Carrie’s complicated life, Moretz seems to understand her character’s motives on a visceral level. She gives a deep sigh before admitting that Carrie isn’t the ideal conversation partner due to what she’s endured. “Carrie’s dark... She’s quite skittish... If I was ever to have a conversation with Carrie, I’d probably just try and talk to her because no one tries to.”
It was the dynamic between Moretz and Moore that was convincing in the scenes they shared. Together, the two deliver some of the best scenes in the movie. “[Moore] has a daughter who is 13. She understands it... it allowed me to safely go to these places with her and not feel used, or, you know, in any way manipulated,” Moretz explained.
In addition to Moore and Moretz, the Carrie cast is completed by a smattering of incredibly attractive teenagers. Most noticeably was the debut appearance of Ansel Elgort. Elgort plays the noble, hunky jock, Tommy, who takes Carrie to prom as a favor to his sympathetic girlfriend, Sue Snell, played by Gabrielle Wilde. Elgort strikes the perfect balance of sweet and sincere. And it looks as though Hollywood has grabbed him at just the right time – he’ll be in the movie adaptions for The Fault in Our Stars and Divergent next year.
Some of the dialogue in Carrie wasn’t delivered quite right, though. Keeping a straight face when Carrie’s mom tells Carrie that everyone will see her “dirty pillows” in her prom dress proved difficult.
Just as funny is the fact that some critics thought Moretz would be far too young to play Carrie. Often, actors will be much older than the roles that they portray, so this may be something that is – regrettably – embedded into our culture. Moretz’s Carrie was a good reminder that real teenagers don’t actually look like they’re fresh out of grad school.
When asked this question, Moretz is a pro. She just says that she knows her age is an advantage. For Moretz, what some may see as a shortcoming actually makes Carrie’s emotions more tangible. “It’s a little bit less of acting and more of being.”