If there was one Stephen King novel that needed to be retold it’s Carrie. For all its genius in the original storytelling, the 1976 adaptation of Carrie starring Sissy Spacek diverted from the text, and wasn’t nearly as scary as it was once suggested to be. Back then the level of gore hadn’t reached the all-time highs that the Eli Roth’s of today took the horror genre. If there was ever a time to remake Carrie, it was going to be for this generation. It was tried at the start of the millennium, but due to its made for TV nature, envelopes weren’t pushed, and nothing was terrifying about Angela Bettis’ Carrie.
Now we have the essential reboot starring Chloë Grace Moretz, and she is without a doubt, someone to fear as Carrie. Although Moretz isn’t too convincing as someone who can’t get a date to the prom, there’s still a bit of an outcast in there that’s believable. The definition has changed a bit throughout history, and for our present Carrie, our outcast has her nose to the ground, was home schooled for years, and isn’t up on the latest trends. What’s refreshing about this Carrie is that she has a stronger sense of self as she experiences moments of being witty, sarcastic, and often pushes back at her mother more than any other Carrie.
Like the former versions, Moretz’ Carrie really springs into action within the last thirty minutes of the film. It’s where everything climaxes; pig blood, and all. Many of the iconic scenes are still in tact from the original. Some of the scenes even follow beat for beat in dialogue. Carrie still gets her period in the shower, and those memorable but horrid school girl chants of “plug it up” and “eat sh*t” are still used to undermine Carrie, but many scenes to follow are appropriately given a more modern twist, which makes this Carrie worth revisiting.
Here are five very spoiler-y changes made to Carrie.
1. The history of Carrie
For this updated version Carrie’s origins are a bit different. Instead of starting with the schoolgirl taunts in the shower, we see the birth of Carrie. It’s a painful process for Carrie’s deeply religious mother (Julianne Moore). For most of the birthing scene she refers to Carrie as a “cancer.” We later find out that Carrie was a product of rape. This new introduction puts the mother-daughter rift at the center, by creating a hostile environment right away as opposed to introducing it later on in the film. After Carrie is born her mother grabs a pair of scissors and almost drives herself to kill her baby as she considers Carrie the spawn of the devil. This helps create tone from the opening scene.
2. Carrie’s mom inflicts real pain
What’s unnerving about Carrie’s mother is the ticking time bomb quality she has going for her. For the earlier adaptations all we knew about Carrie’s mother is that she’s ultra-religious and extremely controlling. She had a weird prayer closet that she threw Carrie into, and would sometimes whip herself around out of anguish when Carrie became to be too much of a burden. While all of these elements exist in the remake, they’re really fleshed out, and it gives a more solid understanding of just how unhinged Carrie’s mother is. Julianne Moore gives an excellent performance by stripping down the cartoonish qualities of Carrie’s mother (aside from the “Dirty Pillows” lines, that’s still in there.) We see her inflict some real self harm on herself. Fresh wounds are shown on her wrists from self-mutilation, and we even witness an intense scene where Carrie’s mother pricks herself with a sewing needle.
3. Social Media takes bullying to a new level
We live in the age of cyber bullying so this adaptation really put that at the forefront to modernize the film. Unfortunately the stakes have been raised higher for bullies through the use of technology. Although it’s mortifying to get your period in a shower and have sanitary napkins and tampons thrown at you, it’s not terrifying. What’s truly terrifying is having the experience filmed on a smartphone by lead bully Chris and later posted on YouTube and broadcasted for the whole school to watch. This version of Carrie really captures cyber bullying to outcast its lead.
4. Carrie is enamored by telekinesis
With our advancements in cinema we can really tackle telekinesis. There are absolutely no limits to how Carrie can show her special “talents” and because of that we have a Carrie that exercises her powers. Sissy Spacek’s character simply twitched her head and stayed in a trance-like state for most of her telekinesis scenes. This Carrie is reading up on telekinesis and has wholeheartedly embraced it, which means the scenes where they come out in full force are truly amplified.
5. Carrie White’s attack of the school is brutal
The most shocking thing that comes out of the school massacre is the violence and gore that’s inflicted on the students. The attack is so lengthy that it even follows Carrie outside of the school as she continues to seek revenge. The reboot truly ups the ante where it counts. While Sissy Spacek’s Carrie was truly under a hypnotic state, Chloë Grace Moretz’s Carrie looks to be extremely malevolent. There’s a brilliant moment where the pig’s blood actually levitates from Carrie’s body right before she attacks the school. Another highlight is the little details in Carrie’s appearance. Carrie’s eye filled with pig’s blood is truly creepy. It’s the little details that go into this reboot that makes it more memorable than the original.
CARRIE is currently out in theaters.