As the third major film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic horror story, the biggest challenge for this year’s “Carrie” is making a familiar tale fresh.
Spoiler alert — it doesn’t succeed.
“Carrie” focuses on a high school-aged girl (Chloe Grace Moretz) who is ostracized by her peers and relentlessly bullied.
One day, when her abusive, religious zealot mother (Julianne Moore) locks her in her “prayer closet,” Carrie discovers that she has telekinetic powers — she can move objects with her mind.
Then, when her classmates go too far the night of their senior prom, Carrie releases her new powers and brings about a catastrophe.
Chloe Grace Moretz stars as the title character.
At 16-years old, Moretz actually looks like she could be in high school, which is a refreshing change of pace from Hollywood’s habit of having twenty-somethings attempt to look like teenagers.
Moretz is also a very skilled actress, having built up a prolific filmography since her first role in “The Amityville Horror” at age seven.
She was in standout in films such as “(500) Days of Summer” and “Kick Ass,” and while she doesn’t have nearly as good material to work with here, she still delivers a strong performance.
Julianne Moore plays her abusive mother, the role for which Piper Laurie received both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe nomination in 1976.
Moore is, as always, excellent.
Indeed, the strongest point for “Carrie” is its casting. Between Moretz, Moore and Judy Greer, famous for “Arrested Development,” “Carrie” has some very solid acting.
However, screenwriters Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lawrence D. Cohen don’t give any of them much to work with.
This is Aguirre-Sacasa’s first feature film, which could explain it — but Cohen was the screenwriter for the 1976 film, so he has no excuse.
Director Kimberly Peirce, who is best known for her astonishing 1999 debut “Boys Don’t Cry,” is billing “Carrie” as a reimagining of the classic.
Despite this description, there is not much significantly different from either the 1976 film or the original King novel.
There’s an integration of newer technology and social media — texting, recording a video on a smart phone and posting it on YouTube — and slightly more focus on bullying and its psychological ramifications.
These minor concessions to the almost 40 years difference between this film and the original novel are hardly enough to make the recent “Carrie” stand out.
The end result, however, is a movie that, while neither particularly original or inspired, is far from unwatchable.
It’s actually much better than the average horror film.
That being said, if you’ve seen the original 1976 film, you really don’t need to spend the money on this one.