The original "Carrie" will forever remain one of the greatest horror films of all time, possessing two phenomenal performances and a talented director at the apex of his career, combining the stylistic flourishes of Hitchcock and Argento with amazing results. Yet expanding on the original might not sound like such a bad idea, particularly taking into account that the sequence, present in the novel, where Carrie destroys the whole town could not be filmed by De Palma for budgetary reasons. But it also begs the question, as did the made for TV remake of "The Shining", if it ain't broke why fix it?
The director clearly wanted to make the film stylistically the antithesis of the original, shooting it on digital video to give it a realistic, but nevertheless low-budget, feel. This doesn't work, for despite the odd inspired visual touch that transcends the format, it simply looks ugly here. The cast do provide some justification for its remake, notably the superb performance from Bettis who, as anyone who saw the underrated "May" will attest to, was a perfect choice for the role. With her unusual looks and twitchy, nervy mannerisms, Bettis makes the film worth seeing. As does Clarkson, filling in a big pair of shoes from the monolithic characterization by Laurie in the original, but instead infuses the character with a more subdued nature, giving her a humanity that was never glimpsed previously. Elsewhere however, the cast let the film down, most disappointing of which being Isabelle, who was so impressive in "Ginger Snaps", giving a one-dimensional performance as one of Carrie's foes. What destroys the film however is the screenplay. Too faithful to the original film in its first half then too jarringly different in the last reel (I won't spoil it but the ending is a travesty), the script's biggest crime is its interrogation framework, so cliched a filmic device that as soon as David Keith appears on screen all credibility flies out the window. "Carrie" is not a terrible remake, but it isn't a particularly good one either, so unless you're a Bettis fan just rent the original again or even the sequel, which isn't looking all that bad right about now.
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