“When I re-read King’s novel, Carrie had my heart,” she said during a recent visit to The City.
Nicely fit to Peirce’s sensibilities, Carrie’s story arc isn’t too far removed from that of Brandon Teena, the main character in her 1999 debut “Boys Don’t Cry,” which became an arthouse hit and won an Oscar for star Hilary Swank.
“We’re all social misfits,” Peirce says. “I don’t know anyone who’s not having trouble with another human being.”
In making her version of the tale, she began by picking up Lawrence D. Cohen’s screenplay for the 1976 movie, which was directed by Brian De Palma.
She ended up keeping enough of Cohen’s work to award him a screen credit. But she did update several major elements.
Notably, she added technology and social media. When the girls tease Carrie in the locker room, someone makes a video and uploads it to the web, so that “everything is maximized.”
Peirce also deepened the relationship between Carrie (Chloe Grace Moretz) and her mother (Julianne Moore), partly by adding a new prologue.
“The mother loves Carrie, but she feels repressed and regretful, she’s fearful that her child is evil, and she’s afraid of the outside world,” she says. “I tried to amplify this in the climax. Now it’s an even harder fight.”
Peirce worked extensively with Moretz on her character. “She has a really strong handshake. She’s super confident, has a loving family and is very worldly. I said, ‘These are things that are great for you as a person, but we’ve got to get rid of them for the character.’”
They visited a homeless shelter, where Moretz spoke to some of the women. Peirce says, “I told her not to just learn their story, but to absorb their way of being in the world.” Perhaps most importantly, Peirce heightened the movie’s sense of revenge.
Even with the modern elements she added, Peirce views “Carrie” as a timeless story.
“Everybody knows what’s going to happen to Carrie at prom,” she says. “Why do they like it? They like the buildup, they like losing control, and they like the revenge. We want to see a sense of right and wrong.”
IF YOU GO
Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Gabriella Wilde, Judy Greer
Written by Lawrence D. Cohen, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Directed by Kimberly Peirce
Running time 1 hour, 32 minutes