So David and I were finally able to get around to seeing the new Carrie that came out a couple weeks ago. I had seen the original Carrie movie, but only recently read the book by Stephen King. It has been a while since I have watched the original movie, so I am not going to bring that in to the conversation. Reading the book was really interesting because I knew the basic plot, but how the information was presented was so much different than how it is in the movie.
Quick breakdown is first if you have seen the original movie, the updated version is a lot like that. The book also follows along the same story and if you do not know the story Carrie I recommend reading it first due to the differences in storytelling. Not knowing what happens while reading the book would make it much more interesting, although even though I did know what was happening I still enjoyed it. The important thing about Carrie is looking at the human spirit and how much a person can take. (Spoilers for Carrie after the jump.)
The thing that I appreciate the most about the new Carrie movie is that it felt obvious that they went back to the original source material of the book, as did the original Carrie. There are lines and scenes that go straight back to the book, which is nice to see. The basics of the story are the same, and Julianne Moore and Chloe Grace Moretz did a great job of bringing out the family dynamics of the Whites. The fact that the new movie takes place in modern times means that there is updated technology, but the story still works. We still have the popular girls, the mean girls, the bad boys, and then Carrie White who is the one everyone else makes fun of. For the most part you can see the story existing in today’s world versus it feeling like an old story pulled into today.
So much of the story of Carrie is about human nature. Margaret White is still a fundamentalist Christian who ends up going crazy. Sue Snell is a good girl who ends up feeling guilty about what she did. Chris Hargenson is a diva princess who has a father that lets her get away with murder (almost). Then there is Carrie White, the outcast who is raised in a very different mindset; Carrie who does not connect with anyone and is always being made fun of. We can understand all of these characters and even though it is decades of difference the story still makes sense. We understand that someone can only be pushed so far before they are going to snap.
Carrie, in the end, is a really simple story, but it has a lot of impact; at the same time, some of the impact is not very visual. The movie definitely hyped up some parts because they were working in a visual medium. In the early part of the movie there are just some small things they do to update the time, while others are definitely to ramp up the drama. Two of the early things that got changed were that a video gets taken of Carrie when she is freaking out over her period in the beginning, and that Carrie goes to the library to look up information on Telekinesis.
The cell phone video of the freak-out is something we hear about a lot now-a-days and as in real life, the video gets posted as another way to torture Carrie. Of course it is also used as evidence that Chris was the one who posted the video, so it can work both ways. Meanwhile, the research on telekinesis makes some sense because there is growing research on a variety of paranormal activities. What does not make sense is for Carrie to be able to say that there are other people like her and it is passed on from her Grandma. It seemed like they were trying to add some information that was in the book, but the way they included it was awkward.
The big difference was how they handled the prom incident, which goes along with how it is handled in the original movie and makes sense because it allows for a much more visual experience. In the movie Carrie is in the gym when she is attacking everyone and is visibly seeing what she is doing to everyone. In the book Carrie leaves the gym and then from the outside looks in to the chaos. They talk about her having this crazed smile on her face when she was doing it. In the book she senses that some have made it out, but knows that she will get them eventually. The movie, as makes sense, goes with a story that works more with visual elements – although some of the special effects used were not impressive. The book goes with what Carrie was feeling at that moment and trying to let the reader understand her state of mind, which is harder in a film.
One of the differences that disappointed me the most was that they made Carrie more surprised by her actions than in the book. In the book Carrie just reaches a point where she breaks. After all the abuse and being laughed at, she now knows that she can defend herself and when they dump the pig’s blood and start laughing it is the last straw. She tried to turn her life around because she realized that if she let her mom keep her locked up that she would never be able to leave. Then when she tries to enter the world just a little bit she feels that she is rejected. In that instant she decides to make everyone pay, not just the school but the entire town. In the movie she runs home and is sad, in the book her rage and anger drive her forward.
There is just a slightly different tone and driving force set in the book than in the movie. In the movie Carrie feels surprised by what she has done versus understanding and knowing exactly what she is doing. The purpose behind how Carrie handles the prom changes some of the outlook of what happens to Carrie. The difference of snapping and not understanding your reaction, and snapping, but being fueled by rage going forward are very different. In the end they are both enjoyable, but there is something about the rage that Carrie holds in the book that I really appreciate about that story. It shows the power that Carrie held and that she began to fully understand it, which is truly frightening.