Then vs. Now: Carrie

Released 11/3/1976                              Rated: R

I could have done without all the nudity in the locker room in the opening scene, but the scene does serve as an establishing point so that we the audience can see just how much of a misfit Carrie is. Now, as far as Carrie’s unease and insecurity goes, the remake does that little bit better, actually showing her tentatively stepping into the shower area once all the other girls have finished and started to dress. But once she starts freaking out, the original takes the cake. You really see her distress because she thinks she’s dying, and everyone laughing and taunting her only escalates the situation. Actually, that was the one thing that scared me to death about the prospect of high the communal showers. I remember thinking “There is no flippin’ way.” Luckily I didn’t have to deal with them.

What’s great about this film is that you feel bad for Carrie. The principal doesn’t care enough to get her name right, her mother is both crazy and abusive, her peers pick on her, and most of the teachers don’t exactly help; this girl really is a misfit. Sissy Spacek has said that she brought a vulnerability to the character, and it shows. All she wants is to be normal and accepted. Just the small scene of her trying on make-up is a grounding scene because this is a girl who has never had luxuries. All her clothes are hand-made, generally not in the current fashion (more obvious in the remake); she doesn’t do her hair, she has no make-up, she’s never thought of herself as pretty, but there she is experiencing something for the first time that everyone around her does automatically. That was a moment for her because up until things started happening, she assigned herself to being the smallest spec of dust in the universe. That was her place and where she was going to be for the rest of her life, no matter how much she wanted that to change.

Overall I wasn’t scared by this movie. It wasn’t ruined for me the way certain other classics have been; I just didn’t find it scary. The dream sequence did freak me out though. Sissy Spacek was adamant about being in that scene herself; apparently they wanted an animatronic arm. But I’m glad it was really her. I hate being able to tell when something’s fake. It just ruins the point of a horror movie.

Released 10/18/2013                              Rated: R

I didn’t care much for this movie. Maybe it’s because I rewatched the 1976 film so close to seeing this one, but up until the prom, I felt it was exactly the same, just lacking some conviction. They’ve said in interviews that this version was supposed to be closer to the book, but even though I haven’t actually read the book, it doesn’t seem like they changed enough to warrant that declaration. (I did read the book synopsis on Wiki)

The opening scene here was more than I expected. I’m sure it was supposed to show more into the mother’s state of mind, but we don’t even really need it. I feel like it tries to show a softer side to Margaret White, but it counteracts the imposing nature she’s supposed to have. While I think Julianne Moore did a wonderful job, she didn’t command the respect and fear that Piper Laurie did. Piper Laurie OWNED that role, and that’s part of the reason why you sympathized with Carrie so much in the original, because you saw how truly terrified she was of her mother. Moore didn’t inflict that fear; she just came off as more detached, and not much of an authoritative figure. Laurie wouldn’t even speak to Spacek on set, adding to their estranged mother/daughter dynamic. And while Moore did most of her scenes alone due conflicting schedules with Moretz being underage at the time, it didn’t help bring forth that extra push these characters needed.

Everybody’s problem in anticipation for this movie was that they felt Chloë Grace Moretz was too pretty for the role. I feel like she was fine; though they could have had hair and make-up look a little more amateur for prom. I don’t believe Carrie would have had the guts to go to a salon. She was supposed to have done it all herself. Overall I feel Sissy Spacek embodied the character better. I didn’t connect so much with Moretz’s version. Carrie stands up for herself a lot more in this movie, so much so that it’s like she becomes the Alpha of the house. It was almost like she was two different characters throughout the movie: timid at school, yet stronger at home once she understands what’s happening with her. She’s supposed to be down right terrified of her mother, yet she still loves her, even though she’s taking a stand for herself. Here all I got out of it was “I’m running the show now, Mama.”

A YouTube reviewer of the movie mentioned that this adaptation focused too much on the side characters, and after hearing that, I’d have to agree. There is too much Sue Snell in this version. The original Sue, both in her intentions and as a character, felt more authentic. I believed her will and decision to have her boyfriend take the misfit to the prom more than I did here. I didn’t feel 2013’s Sue’s commitment to the decision, or her regret at the torment of Carrie. I mean, yeah, she talked about her regret, a lot, but she didn’t convince me. And the sex scene was just another way to show how different the other girls are from Carrie. If they had done something with it other than Carrie informing Sue and then blasting her off to safety, it would have been fine. I mean, the book has Sue thinking she’s pregnant, and then in the middle of all the horror of the climactic moment, it turns out she’s not. It just could have been utilized better.

As far as other characters go I felt Chris’s character this time around was more believable; she was psychotic in the previous movie, here we actually see that she’s just a spoiled brat/daddy’s girl. Tommy felt more genuine in the original, and I believed that he began to possibly fall for Carrie at the prom. Billy Nolan was down right scary in the remake; John Travolta’s performance just didn’t stand up to this guy.

The prom scene this time around was a mixed bag. It almost felt like she didn’t do much, yet everything she did do was very intentional. Here I feel she was pushed passed her breaking point and took to retaliation, only targeting the group of girls who bullied her. Whereas before she snapped into a cold rage and took revenge on everybody, which was part of the horror of the story; she completely snapped and no one survived. It’s less impacting if she’s saving people. This version wasn’t more of a horror story, but it was more horrific. I mean, a girl gets her face caught in a windshield!!! WTF?! I thought I came up with gruesome situations for characters. Jeez.

Skip the remake. Watch the original.

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1 Response to Then vs. Now: Carrie

  1. For me the ‘then’ version is superior

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