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Review: Carrie (2013)

Cinema Review

Carrie 2013 DVD 001I wonder how much point there is giving a separate plot outline in the case of the is film since this remake sticks so close to Brian de Palma’s original film. Some remakes take the original story as a starting point for creating a different story and that can be a great success such as John Carpenter’s The Thing or David Cronenberg’s The Fly or total disasters such as Day of the Dead or the Wicker Man. Other remakes stick to the original story but update the setting and these tend to seem a bit pointless. Unfortunately this Carrie remake falls firmly in the “a bit pointless” category.

This version actually starts with Carrie’s birth and we see Margaret White (Julianne Moore) in labour and sure she is dying of cancer. When the pain goes away she finds she’s given birth to a baby girl and she is about to kill the baby with a pair of scissors out of guilt at her sin of fornication. Fortunately she doesn’t but then it would have been a very short film if she had. It is clear that Margaret White is manically religious and even though she should seek medical help her beliefs won’t allow her to.

Forward to Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) being just as crap at water volleyball as the original was at volleyball.  We get to shower scene which where Carrie has her first period and thinks she’s dying while the other girls pelt her with tampons and shout “plug it up”. Carrie is hysterical with fear and humiliation by the time the PE teacher Ms Desjardin (Judy Greer) arrives and puts a stop to it. Almost unnoticed in the chaos are clear signs of Carrie’s telekinetic power. Another update for modern times is that one of the girls Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) films it on her mobile phone.

The headmaster and Desjardin talk to Carrie about what happened and assure her that nothing is wrong with her. When they tell Carrie that her mother is coming to collect her Carrie gets upset and lashes out with her nascent power breaking a water cooler. When Margaret arrives it’s clear that her religious mania has not diminished and Carrie has been on the receiving end of her very extreme views all of her life. To Margaret there is her God and herself and the rest of the world is of Satan, especially the school.

Desjardin punishes the whole class with strenuous exercises and let them know what she thinks of their stunt. Most of the class accept their punishment with resignation but Chris is a sociopath and refuses to accept that she did anything wrong. She tries to get her classmates to join in her selfish little rebellion but they refuse especially Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) who really regrets what they did to Carrie. That leaves Chris stomping of in a huff on her own vowing vengeance so Desjardin suspends her meaning she can’t go to the Prom.

Sue decides that she wants to do something for Carrie to make up for taking part in humiliating her so she talks her hunky jock boyfriend and really nice guy Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) to take Carrie to the Prom. Carrie is sceptical as is Ms Desjardin but Tommy and Sue is determined and eventually Carrie agrees.

Carrie is really looking forward to the Prom but there are two dark clouds on the horizon. Chris is plotting a way to get back at Carrie and convinces her violent older boyfriend Billy Nolan (Alex Russell) to help her out. Then there is the problem of Margaret White who won’t stop going on about sin and evil and trying to undermine Carrie’s confidence

I won’t talk about the last act at the Prom but if you’ve heard of the story you’re probably aware that everything comes together in a horrific combination of good intentions and petty vengeance resulting in the force of a lifetime of anger breaking free tragically.

The story is strong and this film certainly does a fair job bringing it to the screen and I have no problem with any of the performances of the cast. It does update the story so I guess this film is for anyone allergic to seeing it set in the 70s with 70s fashions but it really doesn’t do anything De Palma’s film didn’t do. For me the main problem it just didn’t make feel the emotions at play the way the original one did and that is most obvious when the film gets to the Prom scene.

Rating 7.0/10

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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Chronicle

Before I saw this DVD I had heard a lot of praise for this film but for one reason or another I didn’t get to see at the cinema but as soon as the DVD/Bluray has come out I got the chance to check it out and I found it is as good as the reviewers said it was. The unknown cast was very convincing and it had an interesting story and I really enjoyed it

Three high school boys find a hole created by some large crystal buried in the ground. The boys touch it and it reacts causing a cave-in that the boys manage to escape. Later they find out that they have telekinetic powers, the ability to manipulate objects with their minds. The boys are Steve (Michael B. Jordan) and Matt (Alex Russell), two popular boys at school and Andrew (Dane DeHaan) who is a quiet unpopular boy but he is Matt’s cousin who looks out for him a bit. Andrew is taping everything on his video camera which he started doing to record all the crap that happens to him such as being abused by his drunken father or bullied by people in his school. He easily shifts to recording the three of them testing out their new powers instead.

They realise that with practice they are getting better at using their powers and have fun trying out new things and playing tricks on people. They are all getting stronger but it seems that Andrew is getting stronger faster and has developed quite good fine control of his power. This might be because it means more to him because he is now powerful and now has companions and, while Matt and Steve still have their social lives, Andrew spends all his spare time practising using his powers. Andrew even starts to gain a bit of social status when he gives a small demonstration of his powers disguised as a conjuring act at a school talent show.

Things start coming apart when Andrew lashes out with his power and he nearly kills someone. Steve and Matt are horrified and it becomes clear that there is real danger to their powers, especially when possessed by someone who has spent years as a seething ball of anger and resentment, powerless to change his miserable home life. Things come to climax when even with his power things at home only get worse.

This is a really good film. It is a found-footage type film but there is very little of the nausea-inducing shaky cam and I thought it was quite well done. I know some people have mentioned it is like superhero origin story and there are definite elements of that but the characters do feel more real, thanks to the direction and performances, especially Dane DeHaan as Andrew.

Rating 8/10

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2012 in Entertainment, Film

 

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Review: Seconds Apart

This was one of the features in the 2011 After Dark Horrorfest and I’ve just got round to watching it now. I tend to buy DVDs on a whim and often end up getting distracted and forgetting about them.

Seth (Gary Entin) and Jonah (Edmund Entin) Trimble are twin brothers born less than a minute apart. At a teenage party a group jocks blow their brains out in an oddly persistent game of Russsian Roulette, while Seth and Jonah hang out in background filming it. Detective Lampkin (Orlando Jones) senses something is really off about the scene especially the absence of any witnesses to the boys killing themselves in a house full of people partying. Seth and Jonah watch their video of the deaths eager to illicit an emotional reaction in themselves, some sign of feeling of empathy with their victims. They somehow caused the deaths as part of what they call The Project using their unspecified mental abilities. When they get ready for bed they perform their ablutions in perfect synchronicity, which really enhances their creepiness, especially when they go to sleep facing each other in the same bed.

Lampkin goes the Catholic school that the dead boys attended and tells the headmaster he wants to interview the pupils to see if any of them have any idea what happened at the party. He raises the possiblity that the deaths were not suicide and that they were made look that way to cover up murders. He interviews a girl, Katie who is very nervous and withdrawn. She says she’s glad the jocks are dead. Lampkin guesses at relationship gone bad with one of the dead boys which Katie confirms. She then mentions someone making a film and we get a flashback to Katie having sex with one of the boys in a lockerroom while Seth and Jonah stand beside them and record it on video. She seems unsure of what is happening and we get the impression that the scene is another part of the twins’ Project. I don’t know how much of that she told Lampkin but it seems to be this that put him onto Seth and Jonah’s trail.

Jonah meets new girl Eve (Samantha Droke) who insists on Jonah’s help to find her class. Lampkin interviews Seth about the deaths, deliberately keeping the twins apart to trap and split them and trap them in a lie. While he’s away Eve and Jonah chat together in the canteen. Lampkin tricks Seth into confirming the existence of the video. The boys appear in the headmaster Father Zinselmeyer’s (Marc Macaulay) office. Using their mental powers they force him to tell who spoke to Lampkin and after Zinselmeyer tells them about Katie Seth leaves the priest to kill himself.

Lampkin really has his work cut out for him trying to prove that the spate of suicides are actually psychic murders, an idea no-one takes seriously but he is aided by the split between the brothers caused by Jonah’s growing relationship with Eve

I enjoyed this film. It’s not brilliant or even particularly original but the story did keep me watching to see how it is resolved. The film does not make it clear what mental powers the boys possess but it does gradually reveal that they are very powerful telepaths and telekinetics. Although there is some gore it is minimal and necessary for the story and it good to see the use of old style effects. The Catholic high school setting seemed a lot more authenmtic to me than many other high schools in other films.

Rating 6/10

 
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Posted by on August 19, 2011 in Entertainment, Film

 

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