I finally got to see the new Carrie movie a couple weeks ago, so I’ve got to post my thoughts.
For a quick, spoiler-free opinion: I was, overall, happy with it. The updating was fairly skillfully done without screaming “Hey look, we’re modern! Facebook! IPhone! Cyber bullying!” Carrie and most of the students felt realistically drawn, but Margaret was a little too toned-down for my liking. The destruction scene was the highlight of the movie.
For a more detailed, spoiler-ish review, click the jump!
The movie opens with Margaret giving birth to Carrie, alone in her bedroom. For some reason, Margaret believes the child is a test from God and she should kill her, but she stops herself just before plunging a pair of scissors into the baby’s face. It’s a very clear depiction of what Margaret’s main conflict will be: her warped sense of religious duty and her love for her daughter.
Skip ahead a few years and we see this baby grown into our protagonist, Carrie. She is in gym class playing volleyball in the pool, and my first thought was that she was going to have her traumatic first menstruation in the pool, which would make for a pretty excellent scene. It would be so public, and since the humiliation and confusion Carrie goes through by having her first period in front of her classmates is so integral to the story, I thought having it happen out in the open where everyone could see it would really ramp up the distress of the moment.
Unfortunately for me, the movie went the traditional route of Carrie beginning her menstruation in the shower after class and I got the first hint of what would be my main problem with this re-make: it is very much chained to the Brian DePalma original. I had been so excited for the first instance of what could have been a brand new presentation of one of the original plot points, but instead it was handled in a nearly identical way. I would soon see that many scenes and even chunks of dialogue would be almost directly lifted from the 1976 film.
In contrast to the original film, however, this version’s Margaret was much quieter. She doesn’t overtly admonish the people she meets in her day-to-day activities, but instead administers small forms of self-mutilation as a way of chastising herself for engaging in their sinful world. In a particularly memorable scene, Margaret digs a seam-ripper into her thigh after altering a prom dress to be more revealing for a customer at the dress shop where she works. In this movie, Margaret tries to mostly hide her fanaticism by keeping her antics bound to her home rather than doing them in public, regardless of who may see. While I wouldn’t say she was any less fanatical than in the original, she was more calculating and less passionate than I would have liked.
The issue of religious devotion was handled pretty well. Margaret’s extreme devotion was still frightening, but she wasn’t the only depiction of Christianity in the movie. Carrie points out to her mother that a lot of the rhetoric she uses against her daughter doesn’t even come from the Bible and that God is all-loving and all-forgiving rather than angry and vengeful. I definitely appreciated that, but by including Carrie’s more reasonable, faithful voice, they could have gone ahead and made Margaret even more unhinged by contrast.
My absolute favorite part of the movie was the destruction scene. What I loved most about this version was that Carrie was very much conscious of what she was doing throughout. She didn’t go into any sort of trance and let the destruction run rampant, as is often depicted. Instead, she made very conscious decisions of who to kill and how. While the indiscriminate destruction of the original was possibly more horrifying, as we saw nice people killed along with the bullies, this was horrifying in a different way. Carrie made sure that those who hurt her the most suffered more than the rest of the students, and she even showed enough restraint to save the gym teacher who had been her friend and confidante. A couple deaths were overly graphic (particularly that of Chris, the main bully, whose demise was almost comical with the slow-motion, Matrix-style camera work that showed every angle of her trauma) but for the most part it was a frightening and satisfying climax.
I really enjoyed the movie. In a lot of instances I thought it needed to break free of the original’s influence, but the changes it did make were strong and I appreciated them. It’s definitely worth watching.
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