As Margaret White, the brutal and puritanical mother who nearly stabs her daughter at birth and who scratches her own wrists until they bleed, the wonderful Julianne Moore provides the only moments of real horror in the film. Her character offers brief, bloody moments that are intimate and disturbing in a way that the spectacular gore of Carrie’s revenge is not.
Even though she isn’t nearly as terrifying as her mother, Moretz’s Carrie remains a compelling character. In contrast to Spacek’s Carrie, who is a pale, ungainly creature broken by her mother’s abuse, Moretz’s Carrie is a well-coiffed, articulate, charming young woman. She seems like a girl who might be normal if she could just get away from her mother.
On prom night, when Moretz’s Carrie unleashes her wrath on the gymnasium, she does so with cool deliberation instead of Spacek’s primal rage. This Carrie is consciously trying to figure out how to use her powers. The wrath that she unleashes on the gym is not the cosmic revenge of a horror film, but instead is a part of a coming-of-age story of a fragile adolescent girl who is beginning to discover just how far her own power goes.