Classic horror film revamped, retains message

(Spoiler alert! If you haven’t read the book or seen either the old or new versions of Carrie and want to, be forewarned: This column discusses crucial plot points.)

Director Kimberly Peirce had big shoes to fill when deciding to remake the 1976 horror film “Carrie” directed by Brian De Palma.

De Palma originally created the film to tell the story of Stephen King’s novel written in 1974 with the same title about a bullied teenage girl with telekinetic powers. The shy outcast, Carrie White, has to deal with her overly religious mother and the torment and terror from her peers.

King paints a picture of Carrie as a chubby, plain, pimple-faced girl. In De Palma’s film, Sissy Spacek plays Carrie; while she’s plain and socially awkward, she is far from a chubby pimpled-faced girl. Spacek was 26 when she played the title character as well, which gave her a creepy and haunting appeal. The modern version has 16-year-old Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie, who is more appealing and from the outside looking in, doesn’t fit the description of a socially awkward teenager.

In the 2013 version, Julianne Moore plays Margaret White, Carrie’s mother In the opening scene of the movie, Margaret is in the throes of labor in her own bed. Delirious with pain, she thinks she has cancer and the baby is a curse from her unseen spouse. She debates whether or not she should kill her baby, and miraculously opts not to. This added scene, not in the book or original film, instantly depicts the Mother as insane, and off the bat viewers feels sympathy for Carrie, turning her into the victim.

In the original film, we don’t think of Carrie as the victim until she is bullied after she gets her period in the gym shower. The bullying is the same in both films and in the text. Since her mother never explained this part of women-hood to her, she is frantic and is convinced that she is dying. Mean girls threw tampons and sanitary napkins at her and yelled, “plug it up!”

Peirce added a modern twist to the bullying — Chris Hargensen, head bully, snaps a photo and takes a video of the disheartened Carrie, lying on the floor of the locker room shower, covered in her own blood. This pulls the viewer into believing that this kind of torment can be — and is — a part of their own reality, and it all comes back to haunt the bullies when Carrie gets her revenge during prom night.

Her powers are strongest when she is in moments of rage. At first she keeps her power a secret from her mother to avoid being locked in “the prayer closet” under the stairs for hours, but that all changes when she is invited to the prom by Sue’s hot, athletic boyfriend Tommy Ross.

Sue’s role in the original film differs from the remake. In the original, on prom night, the gym teacher senses that something is going on and tries to save Carrie. Miss Collins, the gym teacher, shared a personal intimate story of the details of her prom night. In the new version, that intimate scene is taken out which devalues the relationship Carrie shared with Miss Collins (now named Ms. Desjardin).

Sue is ultimately the one who tries to prevent the incident from happening, but it’s too late — Carrie is in full rage after pig’s blood is poured on her from head to toe after being crowned prom queen.

The original film ends the movie with Carrie using her telekinesis to torture and kill everyone, and with the school burning down to flames. Peirce takes it a step further when Carrie takes a personal vengeance on Chris Hargensen, brutally killing her.

In both old and new renditions of the film, Carrie kills her mother once she realizes that her mother is trying to kill her. In the new version, Sue shows up at her door wanting to apologize. Carrie reveals that Sue is pregnant, and forces her to leave before the house crashes down. Could this foreshadow another Carrie movie being cooked in the future? We will have to wait and see.

Overall, there are some differences, but the spirit of “Carrie” is largely the same, which makes for some good, creepy entertainment this Halloween.


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