I noticed that Lawrence D. Cohen, who'd adapted the Stephen King-penned outsider's revenge novel for the Brian De Plama original, is again credited with this adaptation. Did he actually re-write this or did they just re-use his old script? Either way, I was shocked at just how closely this followed the 1976 film. Much of the same dialogue, many of the same camera movements (the pan shot up to show the bucket; the camera beginning to spin around Carrie and Tommy as they dance, etc.) plus weak copycat shots of everything from the fire erupting behind Carrie to the blood falling on her from multiple angles (laughably overdone in this one) are all recycled here once again. They even cloned the silly "getting ready for Prom" montage and if you think the one here is any less corny than the one in the original, you are mistaken. It is one thing to adapt a famous novel that's already been filmed and try to update it for the times, but it is a whole other thing to weakly emulate another director's visual style when you are doing so.
What few "new" things have been added here are sadly not to the overall betterment of the core story. Including cyber-bullying in the mix is - in theory - a good way to update it, but it isn't elaborated upon enough to make it the least bit interesting and is presented almost like an afterthought instead of it being an integral part of the story. Images of Carrie's locker room humiliation being projected in front of everyone at Prom were simply carried over from THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 (1999), where they project embarrassing videos of Rachel at a party. In other words, this movie does absolutely nothing fresh or new with the concept. Nothing.
Moretz's "blossoming" from an outcast to someone who could possibly be accepted by her peer group didn't come off at all. The transformation for Sissy Spacek in the original film was dramatic as she went from awkward, mumbling Plain Jane to a nice-looking, appealing Prom date. Here, Moretz looks exactly the same before and after. Her fresh-faced, squeaky-clean appearance throughout the film makes it's a hard swallow that Tommy (vacantly played by Ansel Elgort) could look at her wearing a dress and then suddenly be like "Wow!" when he barely paid her any mind before. I thought both Spacek and Angela Bettis in the 2002 version pulled this off better. Both actresses also actually modulated their performances; something young Moretz simply does not yet have the gravitas or skill to do.
It's not just Moretz who pales in comparison. Julianne Moore is one of the best actresses working today, but she simply cannot compete with Piper Laurie's go-for-broke, thoroughly unhinged portrayal in the 1976 film. Moore is simply too low-key and restrained to make the part the least bit memorable; the same exact trap Patricia Clarkson fell into in the 2002 version. Whiny-voiced Judy Greer is just plain awful as the gym teacher and is absolutely no match for Betty Buckley's mixture of strength and compassion. A key scene in the original film (Buckley's character discussing her own Prom night disaster with Carrie used as a sort-of 'calm before the storm') has been removed from this one for no good reason. The fate of the character has also been altered; stripping this of an important element of horror and tragedy. None of the young actors portraying the bullies are able to broadly paint their personalities on screen in a memorable or notable way. Portia Doubleday probably comes closest in her portrayal of ringleader Chris Hargensen but she still doesn't seem quite as nasty and vindictive as Nancy Allen.
There was a haunting elegance to the direction, score and photography in the original film and all of that is absent here. This film's ordinary visual presentation, point-and-shoot cinematography, generic music score and CGI effects do absolutely nothing to spruce up the familiar story. In other words, what exactly is the point? Like many other soulless cash-grabs remakes, this will be completely forgotten here in a few years while the original film will forever live on as a genre classic.