Stephen King

Carrie (1976, 2002 and 2013)


Three takes on Stephen King’s first novel centred around the eponymous Carrie White, played by Sissy Spacek (In the Bedroom, The Help), Angela Bettis (Perfume) and Chloe Moretz (Kick-Ass, Let Me In) in the 1976, 2002 and 2013 movies respectively, a shy, unpopular high school student who discovers she has telekinetic powers. All three give interesting portrayals of the troubled teen, each very different both in looks and attitude, including how easily they discover and practice their new found powers. Spacek’s Carrie seems almost unaware of the powers until towards the climax of the film, with the emerging powers starting subtly, whereas in both the later films Carrie practices the powers in her room. In the 2002 movie we see that Carrie has had these powers for a long time, including a very strange and unrealistic scene in which she causes a meteor shower, however the ability to move things with her mind does not come easily, looking more like a fit than anything voluntary. Moretz’s Carrie, however is less downtrodden, which is particularly evident in her relationship with her extremely Christian mother, Margaret White played by Julieanne Moore (Magnolia, The Big Lebowski). In the 2013 film, Mrs White is portrayed as much more mentally unstable than the earlier films, with an emphasis on self-harm which was not present in the other films.

The first key scene in all three films is Carrie getting her period in the locker room and freaking out, leading to her classmates bullying her with tampons and in all three the PE teacher, (Betty Buckley 1978, Rena Sofer 2002 and Judy Greer 2013) to have to slap her out of it, which to me seems very unrealistic, especially in this day and age. Sue Snell, one of the perpetrators then feels guilty and convinces her boyfriend, Tommy, to take Carrie to the prom in apology. Sue’s motives are best expressed in the 2013 film, with her decision to ask Tommy in the oldest film never really explained. At the prom, one of horror cinema’s most famous scenes takes place.

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In which a bucket of pigs blood is dumped over her head, finally tipping Carrie over the edge, releasing her pent up rage on her classmates and teachers at the prom. The ensuing disaster portrayed very differently in all three, with the apparently high death toll not apparent in the 1976 film as in the later films and the special effects in the 2002 film giving it an air of being in a video game. Unlike both the 1976 and 2002 films, in the latest film, directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry), Carrie is fully aware and in control of the events, a feature I find does not fit with the feel of the film.






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The three films share many scenes in common (unlike Thirteen Ghosts), although updated to the era the film was made in, right down to the exact same dialogue, indeed most of the 1976 film (bar the ending) is replicated in the 2002 TV film, with a few added scenes accounting for the 34 minutes longer run time, however, saying this, the films have different endings with the 2002 departing completely from the book and the other films.

All three films have strong points and weak points, and any of the three is an enjoyable watch, I particularly like the 2002’s take on a film through police interviews and Bettis’s portrayal of Carrie however it lacks the polish of the other films, probably due to the much smaller budget of the TV movie. The 1976 film directed by Brian De Palma (Scarface) I feel has the best musical score by far but lacks the impact and full effect of the disaster that hits the town, which is best realised in the 2013 version.

I am not generally a fan of Steven King and Carrie does not sway me otherwise, I think the plot is thin and one dimensional and all the characters lack any nuances, because of this Carrie is a film you do not need your brain to be engaged with in order to understand what is going on. There is nothing to gain by watching all three films and unless you are a huge King fan I would recommend sticking to the original 70s version.