Nearly 40 years after Brian De Palma's cult horror movie "Carrie" shocked audiences, a new adaptation of Stephen King's masterpiece tells the story in an America haunted by the Columbine and Newtown massacres.
The modern version, released in the United States on Friday, co-stars Oscar-nominated Julianne Moore, and is directed by Kimberly Peirce, whose 1999 "Boys Don't Cry" won Hilary Swank the best actress Oscar.
De Palma's 1976 effort, starring Sissy Spacek in the title role, drew a wider audience to "Carrie," the novel published two years previously by the then barely known King.
In the new movie 16-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz takes the role of the tortured adolescent who uses her telepathic powers to wreak revenge on her cruel classmates and her bigoted mother, played by Moore.
"At first I was daunted, as anybody would be. I'm a huge fan of Brian De Palma's original. The first thing I did was call (him) because I'm friends with him. He said 'I think you should do it'," Peirce said at a Beverly Hills press conference ahead of the movie's release.
"I ended up reading the book a few times over and I was re-blown away with what a fantastic story-teller Stephen King is, how deep and resonate the characters are," she added.
"I thought I could modernize it and bring in a contemporary look at these people's lives," she said, citing school and online bullying, as well as "really intensify the mother-daughter relationship because I thought that's the heart and soul of the whole story."
The director also wanted to show how Carrie discovered and developed her powers.
"This is a girl who is a misfit. And she discovers she has a talent, like many of us, whether we can write, we can direct, we can photograph, whatever our talent is in the world, it makes us feel like life might be OK," she said.
But Carrie uses her talent in murderous ways, at her school's senior prom.
In an America still traumatized by the school gun massacre in Newtown last December, when a gunman killed 26 people including 20 young children -- the latest in a long line of mass shootings stretching back to Columbine in 1999 -- Peirce said she wanted to be careful.
"I wanted to make sure she doesn't have actual control .. because I thought that if she had actual control, then she could be more liable for what she does at the prom. And I think in a post-Columbine world, it was really essential that it was still something she was figuring out," said Peirce.
Moore, who exhibits her customary precision as Carrie's deeply religious mother Margaret White, said both the book and the film highlight the damage that can stem from isolation.
"This is about the result of social isolation, what does it do with people. Because someone like Margaret is obviously a psychopath who has made herself marginalized, and Carrie has been marginalized her whole life, and you see the rage that ensues from that.
"I don't want to minimize what happened in Newtown but that was a boy who was extremely isolated, he obviously was mentally ill and he spent a lot of time alone. I think there are real dangers to people being left out."
Moore portrayed Carrie's mother as a real outsider.
"It's a pretty extreme character. In the book she's extreme. I wanted to make everything rooted in some kind of a personal psychology. The abuse, for example. The self-mutilation was the sort of stuff I came up with. I thought it was interesting.
"Because what do children most fear? They fear losing the parent that they have. And if the parents are inflicting harm to themselves and (say to their children) it's their fault, that's an incredibly abusive thing to do to a child."
Peirce paid particular attention to the mother-daughter relationship -- which the two actresses insist was not without love.
"They are the only ones they have. That's it. That's just the two of them from the very very beginning," said Moore.
The teenage star of the film told AFP: "Carrie is in the rage, she is in the anger but at the same time she's dealing with so much love from her mother.
"That's what is so scary .. it's not that her mother doesn't care for her. Her mother overly cares for her and the idea of too much love in a relationship .. is scarier than the idea of somebody who's just forgotten.
"It becomes obsessive," she added