The “Carrie” Prank: Movie Stunt In Coffee House Is Viral Marketing At Its Finest

MGM, the studio behind the remake of 1976 horror classic Carrie, launched a pretty awesome viral marketing campaign this week, trending worldwide as the search term “Carrie prank.”

If you haven’t seen the video itself, you’re in a shrinking segment of the Web’s population: The Carrie prank video, dubbed “Telekinetic Coffee Shop Surprise,” already has 15.6 million views since being uploaded on Monday. And that’s just the original from the account “CarrieNYC” (which has more than 20,000 subscribers); add up all the copies and embeds and you’re sure to get a few million more.

In the clip, viewers see coffee shop patrons react to a situation, in which an ostensibly enraged woman with telekinetic powers—just like Carrie— attacks a man who spilled coffee on her. The step-by-step intro shows a montage of setup and construction of what is really a pretty clever prank: a fake wall is erected, behind which is installed a weighted pulley system to lift a stuntman. Tables and chairs are fitted with remote-controlled motors. Books on the shelf and pictures on the wall are spring-loaded and actors are in position. The gag comes to fruition with the phrase “Time to f**k with some customers.”

Real customers come into ‘sNice Cafe in New York City’s West Village—on a side note, how awesome is that place for playing host to such an elaborate prank? The stuntman spills coffee on a woman’s computer and she freaks out, drawing attention of all the prank’s marks. She flings him against the wall using her powers. After dropping him, she scatters tables and chairs alike. The big payoff is a blistering scream that causes pictures to fall off the wall and books to fly off the shelves.

The reason the Carrie prank is successful is that it draws attention to a product and entertains without being a true advertisement until a brief moment at the end. It lets the viewer in on the gag, and honestly, who doesn’t love a good inside joke. According to actress Andrea Morales, who played the “Carrie,” if you will, there were some truly frightened folks inside the drip den.

“We got some awesome reactions. Some people got really into it,” Morales told the New York Daily News. “A constructor worker actually came toward me to calm me down, saying everything was going to be okay.”

The Carrie prank was executed by marketing firm ThinkModo, according to the NYDN article. Co-founder James Percelay was on-hand for the mayhem and watched the prank’s victims feel some actual terror. Until he yelled “cut,” that is, a signal for the actors and servers to applaud and let the marks in on the joke.

“There was not one person there whose eyes didn’t pop,” Percelay said. “You see everything in New York, but you don’t see someone flying up a wall. I think the most jaded New Yorker was surprised.”

Carrie, starring and , saw an immediate spike on the movie’s page on the Internet Movie Database. The film is a remake of the 1976 original, based on the novel by Stephen King and starring Sissy Spacek in the title role. Rotten Tomatoes reports that 95 percent of respondents want to see the film. Did the Carrie prank work, marketing-wise? Audiences will let the box office know on October 18 when Carrie hits theaters.

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