The new “
Carrie” film featuring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore came out in theatres this weekend, debuting to a modest opening.
Naturally, critics are comparing it to the classic 1976 film featuring Sissy Spacek saying its good, but ultimately a remake of the original that doesn’t add anything to the story.
That couldn’t be farther from the truth. We re-watched the original film before heading out to see the new one. Here’s the verdict: this update to the “Carrie” classic is really good.
While this isn’t going to receive any Oscar nominations — the original earned Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie Best Actress Academy Awards nods — it was an undeniably well done retelling of the story that isn’t getting enough credit.
At last year’s New York Comic Con, Kimberly Peirce said her intentions in making the film were always to do a re-telling of the original book “Carrie” instead of a remake.
Anyone familiar with Stephen King’s original work will automatically see that Peirce’s film is just that — though there are many nods to Brian De Palma’s work.
At the least, it definitely shouldn’t be sitting at 49% on Rotten Tomatoes — nearly the same rating other new releases “Escape Plan” and “The Fifth Estate” have.
While the two are very similar, there are a lot of differences between the two which solidify Peirce’s take as a solid coming-of-age story for a new generation.
Here’s what’s different about the new flick and some things the new adaptation does, dare we say, better.
1. No nudity
Unlike the classic which showed a topless Spacek several times and nude girls running amok in a gym locker room, the new film stays modest with girls wrapped up which makes sense because these
aresupposed to be high school girls and Moretz is, like a high school student, underage.
In all honesty, the nudity of the original felt unnecessary as it added nothing to the story. It felt more real showing girls in towels in a communal bath in the new “Carrie” than running around. Also, did girls really run around baring their bodies in gym rooms in the ’70s? Sounds more like a man’s fantasy.
Still, nothing comes close to the original which sees high school bullies pelting a helpless Spacek with sanitary napkins. Brutal.
2. Updates that make sense.
One of the most frustrating moments to watch in the original is a scene in the beginning between the principal, Carrie, and gym teacher (Ms. Desjardin).
After being corrected numerous times by both Carrie and Desjardin, the principal continuously calls Carrie by the wrong name (Cassie). As a result, Carrie loses it, breaking an ashtray. We don’t blame her. Not only was this part irritating, but it wasn’t believable. Is the guy hard of hearing or what?
Today, that same scene would look ridiculous in the movie and a small reference is made to it.
Later when bully Chris is denied access to the prom, she tries to fight the charge with her father in the principal’s office claiming harassment.
At the end of the film, Ms. Desjardin doesn’t perish with many of the classmates. It never made sense in the original that one of the teachers who was nice to Carrie was also killed.
3. Bullying comes front and center in the new film.
Though the original demonstrates that bullying is wrong — it’s made clear at every turn in the remake it’s not ok to harass anyone else.
While the original solely shows Carrie defiled in a gym locker room, the bullying in the update doesn’t stop there. In today’s technology-driven world, naturally the event is captured on a phone and then uploaded to YouTube to further embarrass the young girl.
The fallout and consequences of the making of that video play out over the film. Overall, Peirce’s take delivers a resounding message that’s more relevant now with teens. It’s easy to hide behind a screen and abuse one another over social media, uploading videos to YouTube.
4. The new film stays truer to the book, clarifying a lot of moments from the original.
Whereas the original “Carrie” focuses much on the dysfunctional daughter and mother relationship, the new film expands on the story by showing it more from other’s perspectives with an added focus on Sue Snell’s story.
In doing so, Peirce helps make sense of parts of the original that weren’t really clear.
For instance: Tommy Ross was killed after struck by the falling bucket at prom, something Spacek’s Carrie never seems to acknowledge. She already looks bent on revenge at this point to care about Ross’ life. It’s also never made clear whether Ross perished from a wound to the head or from the ensuing fire at the school.
In the new film, Carrie (Moretz) doesn’t lash out until after Ross is knocked out. He actually stands up for Carrie after the pig blood is dumped on her. Only after he’s killed does she go on a rampage.
Something else the new film does better is making viewers aware Snell and Ross are girlfriend and boyfriend and that Snell only has good intentions toward Carrie. The original makes it seem as if Snell just asked the most popular guy at school to ask out the outcast. Her intentions never quite come off as a good deed until the end. In addition, the new film adds in a pregnancy storyline for Snell which was in the book.
5. The new Carrie is empowered.
This is the biggest change in the new film.
While Moretz’s incarnation of the character is still awkward and socially inept, unlike Spacek’s version, she tries to break out of her shell.
This Carrie finds strength in her newfound powers of telekinesis. We see a little of this in the original film when Spacek heads to the school’s library. We actively see Moretz’s version of the character practicing her powers on a flag in the classroom and alone in her bedroom. The one downside to this is that she apparently can now levitate later in the film. We let that slide.
One of the best scenes in which Carrie’s changed attitude shows is in the following exchange with her mother — played by Julianne Moore:
Mother: “Your dad game me a cancer. I thought you were cancer.”
Carrie: “Mama, that’s not nice.”
Carrie then proceeds to lock her mother in a closet.
The ’76 Carrie would have never dreamed of speaking back to her mother. She would have been slapped by actress Piper Laurie repeatedly.
Moretz’s character becomes comfortable enough with her powers that her mother actually comes to fear her daughter in the updated version.
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