Carrie the Remake versus Carrie by Stephen King

Carrie did not need to be remade. The book is awesome, and the original movie is pretty darn good. Of course, when I heard that an updated version was being released, I knew I had to see it. I quickly reread the endearing little novel, and prepared myself to be amazed. Okay, maybe not amazed, but at least entertained. As it turns out, I was not amazed or entertained. My sister and fellow critic, Tarah, has a way of pointing out crucial downfalls of films and literature, and she hit this one right on the head: what the Carrie remake is so desperately lacking is a point.

I have not seen the original Carrie for several years, but I reread the book about two weeks ago. The novel smoothly weaves between the events as they are happening and the White commission, a report conducted on Carrie White after the high school massacre took place. Thus, the character of Carrie is a multi-faceted one. We see the troubled teenager she is becoming, and we are also exposed to the genesis of her telekinesis, some of her family history, and interviews with people who had experienced her gift first hand. It is in this area that the new film is so sorely lacking. We see a girl who is randomly able to move objects with her mind. The film weakly ties this development to Carrie’s public shaming in the shower, but the connection is never expanded upon. King tells us in the novel that the onset of adolescence can heighten latent or developing telekinesis. From the White commission, we know that Carrie possessed this gift since childhood; the arrival of her first period is what intensified her telekinetic capacity.

Carrie the novel depicts a steady buildup of frustration. From the moment of her birth, Carrie has been ostracized by her mother and her peers, suffering abuse at every turn. Remake Carrie is certainly tormented, but what we don’t get is the payoff that is so inevitable with the novel. The anguish of King’s Carrie’s has been culminating for years. While her “first blood” in the shower brings the full potential of her telekinesis to light, it is the second blood of the prom that allows her to project her powers onto those deserving of it. And oh do those people deserve it. While remake Carrie tends to come across as a bit vilified, King’s Carrie exacts the revenge that readers wait for from the moment we meet her. I wanted to stand up and cheer when she showed those students what she was capable of. In fact, when my mother saw the original film in theaters, the audience gave Carrie a standing ovation at this crucial juncture. Believe me, that did not happen when Tarah and I were in the theater.

The remake doesn’t quite convey a story of karmic retribution and well-deserved revenge. We don’t see a young woman coming to grasp with a skill she has possessed her entire life. We see a bullied girl losing control and seemingly regretting at least some of what she did. This is not what Carrie is about, and thinking that it is tarnishes the beauty of the 1974 novel. If you really want to “know her name,” make sure it is the Carrie of the novel that you get to know.

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One thought on “Carrie the Remake versus Carrie by Stephen King”

  1. Having read the original screenplay by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, I can safely say that the original script didn’t follow the same structure as the 1976 film. I will admit there were a few homages here and there, but it was a whole new take on the story. Before the film was delayed in January 2013, there was a lot of positive feedback from those who attended the first test screenings in December 2012. A number of people confirmed that the original cut was longer and a lot different than the theatrical cut.

    I remember watching a video on YouTube where two guys reviewed the film (without giving away spoilers) based on what they saw at the test screenings. They confirmed that the film was a lot different to Brian De Palma’s film and was more closer to the Stephen King novel. I personally believe that the studios interfered with the editing of the film. The theatrical cut wasn’t what Kimberly Peirce wanted to release in theatres. It’s like they re-cut the film and gave us a remake of Brian De Palma’s film. I knew it wasn’t Kimberly’s voice in the movie — it was the studios.

    A friend of mine, who is a filmmaker, gave their two cents as to what might have happened…

    The original cut was all ready to go in March, then the studios looked at the release date and thought they could make more money on “Carrie” during the Halloween season. So they demanded re-shoots and multiple re-edits to make it more Horror. It would explain why Lawrence D. Cohen (the writer of the 1976 film) was credited after the film was delayed — they re-shot a lot of scenes from the 1976 screenplay. The downside to the re-shoots and multiple re-edits is that a lot of scenes would have to be dropped or trimmed to fit the required running time by the studios. The shorter the film, the more viewing sessions the film has.

    Based on fan speculation, test audience feedback, and certain confirmed details concerning the film — the deleted and/or extended scenes include:

    -The original opening was a flashback of Carrie as a little girl spying through a fence on a female neighbor who is sunbathing. The young woman notices Carrie and starts to make conversation with her. Carrie tells her that she can see her “dirty pillows” and the neighbor explains to her that it is normal for women to develop breasts when they get older. That’s when Margaret White appears and snatches up Carrie, screaming and yelling at the neighbor. She calls the young lady a whore, telling her to stay away from her child, and Carrie gets upset and begins to cry. Suddenly, it starts hailing. Pellets of ice come down on top of Carrie’s home while Margaret runs into the house trying to console her daughter. The neighbor just stares in disbelief as the hail rains down on the White residence, and only the White residence.

    -The White Commission [The film had integrated several courtroom scenes with witnesses giving testimonies of their experiences with Carrie White leading to the prom incident, essentially structuring the film as a series of flashbacks and recollections. The neighbor from the alternate opening scene is shown at first, now an adult woman, recounting her experience. There is also a scene featuring a TK Specialist discussing telekinesis and saying something to the effect of Carrie being one of many people who may be born with this genetic anomaly. It’s been said that the White Commission scenes revealed too many prom survivors which the filmmaker’s felt spoiled the climax]

    -There was ‘found footage’ that played a role in the film. That’s why you see Freddy ‘Beak’ Holt carrying his camera around and filming everything.

    -There were scenes detailing more in depth character development.

    -There were scenes involving school life, social media and bullying.

    -There were scenes involving Facebook, the e-mail sent from Chris to Donna Kellogg. “So I’m out of prom and my [censored] father says he won’t give them what they deserve.”

    -”Wipe that smile off your face.” – Chris to Carrie at the pool.

    -The locker room scene [Extended] – Chris turning the cell-phone toward herself and the mean girls.

    -Chris and Tina kiss [Extended]

    -Tommy and Sue’s backseat sex scene [Extended]

    -Billy’s wild ride [The “blowjob scene” – similar to the 1976 version]

    -An interaction between Chris and Carrie outside the dress shop.

    -The confrontation between Sue and the mean girls

    -Carrie levitates Margaret [Extended]

    -Drive to the pig farm [Extended]

    -After Tommy leaves the table to get some drinks, Carrie and Miss Desjardin have a friendly and meaningful conversation.

    -Carrie and Tommy kiss.

    -Billy kisses Chris.

    -Margaret claws her way out of the closet and goes over to the sink where she retrieves a butcher knife and cuts herself.

    -Sue tries to call Tommy from outside the school to warn him that something bad is about to happen. He rejects the call.

    -The prom scene as a whole, which was said to be longer and more violent than the theatrical version.

    -Tina on fire [Extended]

    -A scene or shot which reveals George Dawson’s and his girlfriend’s fate.

    -There were some really creepy stuff that was unfortunately cut during post-production, like some “dancing” dead students. My source is not completely certain about this detail or its placement within the film. But it was either in a deleted scene where Carrie snaps the limbs of prom-goers or during the electrocution scene which was supposed to be more graphic and longer. In the novel, it was described as a “crazy puppet dance”.

    -The scene of Carrie levitating outside of the burning school was actually re-shot. In the original version of that scene, Carrie was standing on the centre of the lawn, waiting for the remaining surviving students to come out of the burning school before killing them one by one with her telekinetic powers.

    -After Carrie leaves the school, she begins to destroy part of the town by causing explosions and bringing down power lines as she follows Billy and Chris. You can see the first few seconds of the town destruction from the aerial view. If you look closely behind Carrie, you can see that several cars are in flames.

    -When Sue is outside the school with Miss Desjardin, she sees Tommy’s body being carried out on a stretcher. Miss Desjardin tells Sue that she’s sorry and Sue walks away with determination to find Carrie.

    -Margaret’s original death scene – possibly similar to the book version which depicts a heart attack caused by Carrie’s power.

    -The multiple endings

    1) The first ending is very similar to the ending of the 1976 film but without the final twist: Sue Snell actually gets killed when Carrie pulls her into the ground.

    2) The second ending is an exact replica of the original film where Snell gets pulled into the ground by Carrie but wakes up in her bed to find it’s just a dream.

    3) The third ending is after Carrie saves Sue by pushing her out of the house, which collapses from the falling stones. There’s a bird’s eye view of the wreckage of what used to be Carrie’s home before we get a quick CGI zoom through a pit of debris, to a close-up of a now bloodied Carrie snapping her eyes open.

    4) The fourth ending is of Sue making a final speech to the court where she says the line heard in the teaser trailer about Carrie being just a girl, not a monster. This is spoken over scenes of Sue and her family visiting the cemetery. Sue goes to Carrie’s grave, which shows the headstone tagged up and vandalized. She leaves her flowers and just walks away. Nothing scary, just a very somber closing shot of the headstone.

    5) The fifth ending is after Carrie’s house is destroyed by the falling stones, the movie flashes forward to several months later. We see Sue in the hospital surrounded by doctors and nurses, ready to give birth. They’re trying to calm her down but Sue begins to struggle, saying she feels something is wrong. Suddenly, a very bloody hand (covered in afterbirth) erupts from between Sue’s legs, reaching up and gripping her arm. She screams in terror and we see that she is having a nightmare, being held down by her parents while the camera pans over to a wall where we are shown a large crucifix hanging in her room.

    6) The sixth ending is described as a “morning after voice over” by Sue Snell as we see the town coping with what happened.

    7) The seventh ending shows the town the morning after Carrie’s attack filled with news crews, reporters, and cops talking about the whole thing. What’s bizarre about this scene is that Carrie’s destruction of the city is being described as “a conspiracy.” Apparently the town is “trying to cover up what really happened.”

    There is an online petition for a Director’s Cut to be released, but, let’s face it, the studios won’t release one. The petition has gained over 6,000+ signatures (I think?), so I’m curious to see how that will turn out.

    Like

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