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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Carrie

By
Kurt Jensen
Source: Catholic News Service


Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore star in a scene from the movie "Carrie."
Since high school bullying can now bring felony charges, the telekinetic revenge of "Carrie" (Screen Gems) seems almost quaint.

Someone decided that a reboot of the 1976 horror film based on Stephen King's 1974 novel was a good idea, though. So by gosh, by golly and by rote, director Kimberly Peirce has taken a crack at it, and here we are.

In the wake of the original film headlining Sissy Spacek, there followed a disastrous 1988 Broadway musical, a 1999 big-screen sequel, "The Rage: Carrie 2," and a 2002 TV movie on NBC. Troubled, naive Carrie White, humiliatingly splattered at the senior prom by a bucket of blood, now ranks in the remake league somewhere between "Anna Karenina" and "Dracula."

Peirce's version, scripted by Lawrence D. Cohen and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie and Julianne Moore as her deranged fundamentalist Christian mother, Margaret.

Let's be clear what we mean by deranged: Margaret likes to lock her daughter into a closet to repent whenever she feels the girl has sinned, she refers to breasts as "dirty pillows" and she nearly killed Carrie at birth with a pair of scissors.

Peirce's religious imagery includes reproducing one of the earlier film's famous scenes in which Carrie directs a drawer full of cutlery at her mother, who's then stuck onto a door like the arrow-riven St. Sebastian. Pierce also makes a nod to the novel's use of Tennessee Ernie Ford's gospel classic, "Let the Lower Lights Be Burning."

The plot, set in the present day, remains the same. Carrie does not understand menstruation; her ignorance leads to a mortifying scene in the communal high school showers. A cruel classmate, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday), takes advantage of current technology to capture this on her cellphone and upload it to YouTube.

Kindly gym teacher Ms. Desjardin (Judy Greer) bans Chris from the prom as punishment, and Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort) breaks through Carrie's shyness to ask her to the dance. Carrie's so happy, she makes her own gown. Chris is so angry, she plots a very public revenge.

In the meantime, though, Carrie discovers her ability to move objects around by directing them with her hands or by just glaring at them. She begins with water jugs and a restroom mirror, moves up to Stickley chairs and her mother, and by the time she's queen of the prom, is ready to unleash mayhem.

Blood, and lots of it, is the leitmotif here. There's so much gore, in fact, that it quickly loses all shock value. What's left is a pretty tame gross-out attempt.

The film contains considerable gory violence, implied premarital sexual activity, disturbing imagery, mature themes, a few uses of profanity and fleeting crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is R—restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

*****
Kurt Jensen is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.





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Monica: The circumstances of St. Monica’s life could have made her a nagging wife, a bitter daughter-in-law and a despairing parent, yet she did not give way to any of these temptations. Although she was a Christian, her parents gave her in marriage to a pagan, Patricius, who lived in her hometown of Tagaste in North Africa. Patricius had some redeeming features, but he had a violent temper and was licentious. Monica also had to bear with a cantankerous mother-in-law who lived in her home. Patricius criticized his wife because of her charity and piety, but always respected her. Monica’s prayers and example finally won her husband and mother-in-law to Christianity. Her husband died in 371, one year after his baptism. 
<p>Monica had at least three children who survived infancy. The oldest, Augustine (August 28) , is the most famous. At the time of his father’s death, Augustine was 17 and a rhetoric student in Carthage. Monica was distressed to learn that her son had accepted the Manichean heresy (all flesh is evil)  and was living an immoral life. For a while, she refused to let him eat or sleep in her house. Then one night she had a vision that assured her Augustine would return to the faith. From that time on, she stayed close to her son, praying and fasting for him. In fact, she often stayed much closer than Augustine wanted. </p><p>When he was 29, Augustine decided to go to Rome to teach rhetoric. Monica was determined to go along. One night he told his mother that he was going to the dock to say goodbye to a friend. Instead, he set sail for Rome. Monica was heartbroken when she learned of Augustine’s trick, but she still followed him. She arrived in Rome only to find that he had left for Milan. Although travel was difficult, Monica pursued him to Milan. </p><p>In Milan, Augustine came under the influence of the bishop, St. Ambrose, who also became Monica’s spiritual director. She accepted his advice in everything and had the humility to give up some practices that had become second nature to her (see Quote, below). Monica became a leader of the devout women in Milan as she had been in Tagaste. </p><p>She continued her prayers for Augustine during his years of instruction. At Easter, 387, St. Ambrose baptized Augustine and several of his friends. Soon after, his party left for Africa. Although no one else was aware of it, Monica knew her life was near the end. She told Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now affords me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.” She became ill shortly after and suffered severely for nine days before her death. </p><p>Almost all we know about St. Monica is in the writings of St. Augustine, especially his <i>Confessions</i>.</p> American Catholic Blog The Church really is my mother, too. She isn’t a vague maternal force for a generic collection of anonymous people. This Mother truly nurtures us—each one of us. And for those of us who are baptized Christians, the Church has actually given birth to us on a spiritual level.

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