Stephen King's horror novel—about a high school outcast (Chloe Grace Moretz) exploring her nascent telekinetic powers and enduring the abuse of her religious fanatic mother (Julianne Moore)—gets a new screen treatment from director Kimberly Peirce, who substitutes a more somber tone for the camp and sick humor of Brian De Palma's 1976 version. Peirce reinterprets the story as an antibullying lesson, bluntly depicting the gratuitous cruelty of teenagers and psychoanalyzing the title character, making her more human and less demonic. The fiery prom-night climax is significantly less gruesome than De Palma's, in keeping with our post-Columbine culture; until then the film operates as a paranormal drama by way of Peirce's melancholy debut feature, Boys Don’t Cry (1999). Such wildly supernatural material begs for more posturing and less pathos. With Judy Greer.
By Drew Hunt