Stephen King’s Carrie has come to be known as an iconic horror classic, and its 1976 movie received an equivalent title. So it was quite a surprise to hear director Kimberly Peirce was taking on the feat of reinventing an already triumphant horror film. The 2013 revamped Carrie had the challenge that comes with having to base a movie off a novel, and I was quite excited to see if the thriller film could be well incorporated into a new-age time period and keep close to to the book. I can say with confidence: it did.
Carrie White (Chloe Grace Moretz) is born into a lonely decrepit house with her biblical extremist mother Margaret White (Julianne Moor) who has raised her daughter into a life of social anxiety and fear. From the beginning Carrie is tagged as the ‘weird girl’ and is mercilessly bullied and the outcast in her high school. When Carrie first experiences a woman’s coming of age in the girl’s shower room, Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) leads her clique to a group effort in humiliating her and posting videos of the incident on the internet, spreading Carrie’s demise throughout the entire school.
Like all novel-based movies, there were components left out. More than anything, Carrie’s childhood and much of her character development before said shower incident was left out. Chloe Grace Moretz, being wonderfully casted, does a good job of portraying just how deprived Carrie was raised to be, but it would have been nice to see it clarified for those who haven’t read the book.
Out of all the girls who threaten Carrie, Sue Snell (Gabriella Wilde) is the only one to have feelings of regret. To clear her guilty conscience, Sue takes it upon herself to give up her senior prom night and convince her boyfriend, the ever popular and handsome Billy Nolan (Ansel Elgort), to take Carrie to prom instead. In Stephen King’s novel, a majority of Sue Snell’s thought process is in her head. Seeing the movie without having a window into the character’s mind leaves Sue Snell to the interpretation of the impulsive ‘nice girl’, or the validity of her selflessness is doubted and viewers are to be left confused as to why exactly she chose to do what she did. Meanwhile, Carrie’s abusive mother continues to terrorize Carrie and reduce any amount of her daughter’s already tarnished confidence to nothing.
However, In the midst of all the pain, all the bullying, and all the humiliation, there is an unexpected drip of hope for Carrie White. She discovers a telekinetic gift within herself; she is able to move things at her mind’s will. Not only is she is able to feel empowered and unique for the first time in her life, but she also for once has a means to defend herself against her bigoted and insane mother. This change of pace allows for Carrie to agree to prom with Billy and for the audience to begin rooting for her to break out of her shell. At this point viewers know she has the power to say no to her mother and the ability to overthrow her if need be.
When Billy Nolan comes to pick her up for prom, Carrie looks and feels beautiful in her blushing prom dress and peachy make-up. Prom is an invigorating experience for Carrie and it’s as if nothing could possibly go wrong, but–as if it wasn’t obvious at this point– something does. A bucket of blood is splattered right onto Carrie’s head, besmearing her dress, her demeanor, and her trust in her classmates as they laugh at her misfortune. For the remaining portion of the film, Carrie exacts a revenge that only a girl who has been broken the way she has can offer. My absolute favorite thing about Carrie is that the audience is left confused, wondering whether to be on the side of the defeated girl who is on a murderous rampage, or on the side of the students who hurt Carrie to begin with.
This movie does an amazing job of making you feel the same way you would if you were reading the book. A gradual climb in the direction of a tranquil ending that, obviously, collapsed for the worst. Carrie’s best aspects were it’s casting and setting. The small town where everyone knows each other and the high school is a prominent building is exactly how King described it, and the actors made it very easy to pinpoint who each character is. On the gore-scale, the movie was no where near as bloody as the book. When it comes to the plot development and story-telling, it did a wonderful job of sticking to the novel, more so than I usually see in novel-based movies these days. Score: 9/10.
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