Carrie (2013): Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)

  • Reviewed by: Stephen Bjork
  • Review Date: Jun 06, 2024
  • Format: 4K Ultra HD
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Carrie (2013): Collector’s Edition (4K UHD Review)


Kimberly Peirce

Release Date(s)

2013 (March 19, 2024)


MGM/Screen Gems/Misher Films (Shout! Studios/Scream Factory)
  • Film/Program Grade: C+
  • Video Grade: A-
  • Audio Grade: A-
  • Extras Grade: B+

Carrie (2013) (4K UHD)

Buy it Here!


Whenever a new remake is announced, one question inevitably arises: why? Why does Hollywood keep remaking older films instead of creating something original? The obvious answer to that is “profits,” since it’s capitalizing on an existing intellectual property with a potentially built-in audience, which may seem less risky to the suits than taking a chance on a new IP. Of course, there’s also a flawed assumption inherent to the question, which is that something must be original simply because it isn’t based directly on preexisting source material. Yet that obviously isn’t true. There’s nothing new under the sun, and every story in existence is a variation of one the same basic narrative archetypes that have existed for millennia. Any film that isn’t a remake still owes a heavy debt to many, many things that came before it.

Still, there’s another question that rarely gets asked, but it’s a fair one: why not? Even setting aside the matter of potential profits, the existence of a remake doesn’t harm the legacy of the original film in any way, shape, or form. Even in the rare cases where a remake improves upon the original, it’s still a completely separate experience. Concerns about the fact that younger audiences will end up watching the newer films instead of the older ones are misguided, because let’s face it: younger audiences rarely watch older films anyway. Plus, when remaking an older work that’s based on a book, there’s always plenty of new material to mine from the literary source that was omitted in the previous version. When adapting a novel into a feature-length film, sometimes more ends up being cut out than what’s left in. So, while the odds that a remake can stand up to the original film are usually pretty slim, what’s the harm in trying? Worst case, you can safely dismiss it while still enjoying the version that you love.

That brings us to Kimberly Peirce’s 2013 remake of Carrie. Brian De Palma’s 1976 adaptation of the Stephen King novel is widely accepted as a classic of the horror genre, so the very thought of remaking it may seem like an act of unforgivable hubris. Yet as undeniably effective as De Palma’s film may be, it’s hardly perfect, and some elements of it haven’t worn as well as others. It’s very much a product of its time, so there’s plenty of room left to explore King’s basic themes while creating an updated take—to say nothing of plenty of material left over from his book. The trickiest thing about an adaptation of Carrie is right in the title: the character of Carrie White. Carrie is both the innocent victim of circumstances and a monstrously active participant in the death and destruction that results. That’s a difficult balance to achieve, and as memorable as Sissy Spacek was in De Palma’s film, it’s still possible to strengthen the portrayal of the ingénue behind the executioner.

Fortunately, Peirce found the ideal lead actor in the form of Chloë Grace Moretz, who manages to find the humanity in Carrie without letting her rampage at the end completely overwhelm it. Her version of Carrie White remains sympathetic most of the time, if not necessarily empathetic (although that will naturally vary from viewer to viewer). There’s a bit of a split personality to the film as a whole, however, because as grounded as this rendition of Carrie may be, it’s offset by the exaggerated presentation of her tormentors, with Julianne Moore in particular making Piper Laurie’s version of Carrie’s mother seem positively restrained in comparison. Brian De Palma is hardly a subtle filmmaker, but Peirce has a few moments in this version of Carrie that make his film look like a Val Lewton production. While Stephen King has always been prone to caricature, especially in terms of the religious lunatics that he’s created like Margaret White, Moore’s performance borders on being active burlesque. Portia Doubleday and Alex Russell are equally melodramatic as the masterminds of the plan to humiliate Carrie, Chris Hargensen and Billy Nolan. Fortunately, Gabriella Wilde and Ansel Elgort as Sue Snell and Tommy Ross are much more restrained, with Elgort’s likeable performance helping to anchor Carrie White’s character during the calm before the storm.

While Peirce may have found a good balance between the extremes of Carrie White’s personality, the tensions between the tonal extremes in Carrie as a whole never quite resolves. For better or for worse, De Palma maintained a much more consistent tone throughout his version of the story. Plus, while Peirce was able to add back some scenes from King’s book that do help illuminate the characters, she’s probably still too faithful to the overall structure of Lawrence D. Cohen’s script for the first film. Among other things, Cohen omitted the bulk of the mass death and destruction that Carrie unleashed during her walk home from the prom. Cohen probably left it out for budgetary reasons while Peirce did the same thing in order to keep Carrie more sympathetic, but it’s still a missed opportunity to have done something to further distinguish the remake.

Does Kimberly Peirce’s Carrie end up improving upon Brian De Palma’s Carrie? No, it doesn’t, but it didn’t really need to. Does it still offer an interesting alternative that’s worth watching? Yes, it does. Once again, nothing about this version of Carrie can take anything away from the original film regardless of how you may feel about remakes in general or this remake in particular. Of course, one unavoidable issue with any remake of a popular film is that it’s nearly impossible to experience it on its own terms without constantly comparing it to the original. If there is any hubris in remaking Carrie, it lies in thinking that it’s possible to avoid that problem. Still, as a viewer, the more that you’re able to watch this version of Carrie on its own terms, the more that you’ll appreciate what Peirce brought to the table.

Cinematographer Steve Yedlin captured Carrie digitally in ARRIRAW format at 2.8K resolution using Arri Alexa cameras with Panavision Primo and PCZ zoom lenses. Postproduction work was completed as a 2K Digital Intermediate, framed at 2.39:1 for its theatrical release. For this 4K version, the 2K DI has been upscaled and graded for High Dynamic Range in both Dolby Vision and HDR10. It’s another demonstration of the advantages of upscaling at the uncompressed 2K source rather than at the user’s end from a compressed 1080p Blu-ray. No, there’s still not 4K worth of fine detail on display, but the results are demonstrably clearer, cleaner, and crisper than upscaled Blu-ray. The textures are all better resolved, even if they still aren’t the final word in fine detail. Of course, the biggest advantages to this version come from the HDR grade, especially in terms of the contrast range, which is outstanding here despite the fact that the black levels still aren’t quite the deepest. That’s simply how they were captured, however. Yedlin has become renowned for developing his own LUTs (look up tables) that have an uncanny knack for mimicking the look of film, but that was still a work in progress in 2013. Carrie does look like a digital capture, but his cinematography is still stellar, and it’s perfectly represented in this 4K version.

Audio is offered in English 5.1 and 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio, with optional English subtitles. While some people will doubtless be disappointed that there’s no Atmos remix, this has always been a potent 5.1 mix. That’s especially true of the bass, which digs deep whenever Carrie is exercising her telekinetic powers. The surround channels are active, creating an immersive soundstage throughout, but they naturally spring to even more vivid life during the telekinetic rampages, with objects flying all around the room. The score from the always reliable Marco Beltrami is equally potent, and it’s never buried in the mix. The hep cats will also dig the songs from the likes of Vampire Weekend, HAIM, The Naked and Famous, and more.

Shout! Factory’s 4K Ultra HD release of Carrie is a two-disc set that includes a remastered Blu-ray with a 1080p copy of the film. It also includes a slipcover that duplicates the theatrical poster artwork on the insert. The following extras are included, all in HD:


  • Audio Commentary with Kimberly Peirce


  • Audio Commentary with Kimberly Peirce
  • The Devils’ Hand: Designing Carrie (22:53)
  • They’re All Going to Laugh at You: Adapting Carrie (32:44)
  • Alternate Ending (2:30)
  • Deleted/Alternate Scenes (10:51, 9 in all)
    • Hail
    • Chris and Tina Kiss
    • Billy’s Wild Ride
    • Carrie Levitates Margaret
    • Drive to Pig Farm
    • Carrie and Tommy Kiss
    • Billy Kisses Chris after “Jailtime”
    • Margaret Cuts Herself
    • Tina on Fire
  • Creating Carrie (20:52)
  • The Power of Telekinesis (3:47)
  • Tina on Fire: Stunt Double Dailies (2:07)
  • Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise (2:20)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:30)

The commentary with Kimberly Peirce was originally recorded for the 2013 Blu-ray release of Carrie from MGM/20th Century Fox. She says that she immediately went back to King’s novel after she was hired to direct the film, and explains how the screenplay was structured and restructured during the writing process. She also discusses how things were reshaped during the editorial process, and why she reshot some scenes in order to make the film feel creepier. She’s open about what she either cut or was unable to film to her satisfaction, including the fact that she wanted the sex scenes to be more explicit, and why she decided to replace some of the practical effects with digital ones. Peirce provides her own perspectives on the casting and the relationships between the characters. She sees Carrie as a love story between Carrie White and her mother, and she wanted to maintain audience sympathy for Carrie, so she was careful to make sure that Carrie’s revenge at the end always seemed justified. However you may feel about Peirce’s version of Carrie, her commentary offers valuable insights into the decisions that are made with remakes like this.

Shout! Factory has added two new extras for this release, produced by Daniel Griffith’s Ballyhoo Motion Pictures. The Devil’s Hand: Designing Carrie is an interview with production designer Carol Spier, whose first try at designing a Stephen King adaptation was David Cronenberg’s The Dead Zone back in 1983. (That was also her first time working with Cronenberg, and it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.) Spier reread the book after she was hired for Carrie but avoided revisiting De Palma’s film in order to avoid being influenced by it. She steps through the various locations and sets for Carrie and explains her thought processes behind them. They’re All Going to Laugh at You: Adapting Carrie is an interview with Joseph Maddrey, author of Adapting Stephen King. He offers his thoughts about King’s inspirations for the novel and how the story evolved before its publication, as well as the challenges in adapting it for the screen. He explains how screenwriter Lawrence D. Cohen streamlined the story for the 1976 version, and then steps through the ways that Kimberly Peirce and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa revised things for the remake. Despite their intentions to go back to the novel, Maddrey feels that it’s ultimately more faithful to the De Palma film than it is to the book.

The rest of the extras were all originally produced for the Fox Blu-ray. The Alternate Ending and the Deleted/Alternate Scenes can both be played with or without optional commentary from Kimberly Peirce. Obviously, the most interesting one is the Alternate Ending, which tried to find a way to be play with the ending of the De Palma film while still updating it into the context of the new one. You’ll have to judge for yourself which one is better. Note that unlike the original Fox Blu-ray, there’s no way to select the Deleted/Alternate Scenes individually, so they can only be played as a group. (Also, as the several of the scene names will indicate, Peirce really did end up removing some of the sexuality that she originally intended for the film.)

Creating Carrie is a making-of featurette that includes interviews with Kimberly Peirce, Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore, Judy Greer, Gabriella Wilde, Portia Doubleday, and producer Kevin Misher. It covers the conception, casting, and production of the film. Peirce says that she’s friends with Brian De Palma, but she still felt that she could do something different with her film. She wanted to do justice to the book. The Power of Telekinesis offer many of the same participants giving their thoughts about telekinesis, joined by Alex Russell and Ansel Elgort. Yes, it’s fluff. Tina on Fire: Stunt Double Dailies is raw footage showing the way that the stuntperson doubling for Zoë Belkin did a 90-second full body burn with bare skin, protected by nothing more than gel. Finally, Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise is an utterly baffling PR stunt that was created to promote the film, showing how the marketing agency Thinkmodo created a fake telekinetic outburst at the ‘Snice Coffee Shop in the West Village of New York City. Naturally, it went viral, and while there are sources that claim that the reactions of the customers were 100% real, the way that they’re filmed leaves me skeptical that the whole thing was fake. Once again, you’ll have to judge for yourself.

That’s all of the previous extras for Carrie along with a couple of new ones, and the quality of this 4K presentation easily trumps the Blu-ray version. Regardless of whether or not this is the definitive remake of Carrie, Shout! Factory’s UHD is unquestionably the definitive release of the remake of Carrie. Take that as you will.

- Stephen Bjork

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