Directed By: David Carson
Written By: Bryan Fuller
Released: November 4th, 2002
Runtime: 132 minutes
Studio: MGM Home Entertainment
Based on Stephen King's novel. A high-school pupil suffers both relentless victimisation at the hands of her classmates and bullying from her strictly religious, abusive mother.
I reviewed the original 1976 Carrie and the 2013 remake around three years ago, not knowing then that there was actually this 2002 remake in existence as well. I only came across it recently when my brother and myself re-watched the original.
Having seen both the other two, and having read the book, I think I can confirm that the 2013 one is quite possibly my favourite version. While I like a lot of the original and Sissy Spaceck will always be the best Carrie White, I don’t think it stayed as true to the book as people might be aware of. This 2002 remake of Stephen King’s famous tale, is in my opinion the closest they’ve come to visualising the book.
This remake takes the structure of flashbacks to tell its story. We open in a guard station with Sue Snell being questioned and she tells us the story. The film continues to return to the questioning scenes, sometimes including sessions with other survivors. This is the structure that the novel takes and, in my opinion, it served the film well. My only disagreement with these scenes was Sue’s attitude towards the guards. I think that was a little over the top and a bit unnecessary.
What I liked about these flashbacks was we were allowed to see certain moments from Carrie’s childhood that were included in the book but not in either of the other two film adaptations. I don’t believe they weren't unnecessary like I know some people have remarked, because they provide us with more insight as to why Carrie is the way she is. Sure, we get that in the other versions, but I think having these flashbacks emphasises more just how horrible Carrie’s whole life has been, enabling the specialness of the moment when at Prom everything finally goes right for her, to hit home all the more.
I also like that in this film it took the time to establish Carrie’s character and her surroundings just a little bit before throwing us into the period scene. Both of the other adaptations open with that scene and as horrifying as it is, again it hits home more because we’ve already established some context. What had to make me make me smile watching it though was how censored it is compared to the original. Maybe because it was released as a TV Movie. Not just this scene (although this is the most evident) but the whole film is far more cautious in what it shows on screen. I don’t agree with this. It’s a horror film. It was written as a horrifying story meant to shock and shake people. The films shouldn’t have to hold back for the sake of fitting into an audience and/or age category. Allow them to do all the things other horror films have done. Particularly in the prom scene where the showdown takes place. I’m not a fan of gore but there were moments where even I was thinking it was needed, even expecting it to come and seeing it fall short was a bit of an anti-climax. That’s not to say the scene itself as a whole was anti-climax.
Now that I’ve seen all three, which Carrie do I prefer? Well…I think all actresses play her in their own way and I like aspects of each. Sissy Spaceck embodies the character wonderfully, she’s particularly great in the climatic prom scene. None of the other two can top the original in this scene. She does so little, merely turning her head and its all in her eyes; the pain and heartbreak, the anger, the intentions. Whereas both Chloe Grace Moretz and Angelina Bettis felt it necessary to either move their arms or make it look like they were having some kind of seizure when they were using their telekinesis. In theory it probably sounds like a better idea than it looks onscreen. In these moments Sissy Spaceck comes out on top every time for me. Then in other moments Chloe Grace Moretz has an innocence and she’s so likeable. The scene in the 2013 version which stood out to me was when Carrie was reading a poem aloud in the classroom, so shy, so self-conscious and nervous. Yet everyone else was laughing around her. I think Chloe Grace Moretz played this perfectly. Angelina Bettis said very little throughout this remake. She never smiled and she was as stiff as a board. It’s not necessarily a bad thing because that’s how I imagined Carrie in the book anyway. So, despite what others might say, I don’t see anything wrong with her portrayal overall – minus the prom scene, of course.
People give this film a hard bashing I think that it doesn’t deserve. I’d like to believe that anyone who had read the book could see how much more it followed it (with the few exceptions) than the original did. Of the three it’s probably the most forgettable which is a shame. But it’s still there and I think it deserves to get more recognition for its existence than it evidently does.