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Originally published Monday, October 14, 2013 at 5:06 AM

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Filmmaker Kimberly Peirce talks about her ‘Carrie’

The director of “Boys Don’t Cry” says that film and her remake of the Brian De Palma movie have something in common — “tragic inevitability.” The film opens Oct. 18, 2013.

Seattle Times movie critic



Opens Friday at several theaters. Rated R for bloody violence, disturbing images, language and some sexual content.

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“It’s an amazing superhero origin story,” says filmmaker Kimberly Peirce. She’s in town talking about her newest film: a re-imagining of Stephen King’s 1974 horror novel “Carrie,” previously filmed by Brian De Palma in 1976.

Approached to direct the familiar tale of a misfit teenage girl with telekinesis who wreaks a terrible revenge on her taunting classmates, Peirce realized that it had a throughline similar to her acclaimed first film, “Boys Don’t Cry.” “There’s a tragic inevitability,” she said, like that of Brandon Teena’s pretending to be a boy despite certain eventual discovery. “We love [Carrie] so much that we want to see her go to that prom. We know it’s going to be terrible, but we still want her to go. We want to buy into the aspirational quality of it — we surrender our fear. We want her to have that happy night.”

And Peirce, who’d loved the King book since reading it as a young girl, found much else to fascinate her: the exploration of a young woman’s budding superpowers, the “mother/daughter love story,” the opportunity to create “a delicious rendering of revenge,” and to relocate the story to the present, where, thanks to ever-present cellphone cameras, private incidents (such as bullying a girl in the gym showers) don’t necessarily stay private.

Long a friend of De Palma’s (“I think he’s a brilliant director”), Peirce called him to see what he thought of her taking on the project. “There’s enough material out there that I shouldn’t have to do anything that makes another director feel bad,” she said. “He was really supportive — he said, ‘You have to do it.’ ”

There are, of course, similarities between her approach and De Palma’s — “Two people who love this source material are going to come at it, in some ways, exactly the same” — but Peirce added her own stamp. The new “Carrie” features an opening scene depicting Carrie’s birth, adds more emphasis to Carrie’s exploration of her superpowers and her relationship with her mother, and subtly alters the focus of the revenge scene (it comes, says Peirce, from grief).

With Chloë Grace Moretz (“Let Me In”) as Carrie and Julianne Moore as her tormented mother, Margaret, Peirce crafted a complex pairing: a mother afraid of the world and of her daughter’s powers; a child desperate to be normal, who ignores her better judgment and goes off to the prom hoping that it might be the start of a new life.

It isn’t, of course, but Peirce hopes that her film makes audiences understand Carrie’s actions. “We want to live in a world where we know if somebody does something wrong, they’re going to get theirs,” she said. “And we’re going to love the person who carries that out for us.”

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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