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.