Day #144: Carrie vs. Carrie (2013 remake vs. the novel)

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[Carrie – Stephen King (1974)] [Carrie (2013) IMDB]

Synopsis:

The story of misfit high-school girl, Carrie White, who gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers. Repressed by a domineering, ultra-religious mother and tormented by her peers at school, her efforts to fit in lead to a dramatic confrontation during the senior prom.

My take:

I said a while back that I wanted to talk about the new Carrie movie in relation to the novel once I’d had a chance to read it, since I’d heard/read that it was meant to be closer to the novel than the original movie. Lo and behold, I’ve finally gotten around to doing just that!

Confession time: part of the reason I hadn’t read Carrie is because I hate Stephen King’s writing. Don’t get me wrong, I think he comes up with brilliant stories – but his style of writing itself has always driven me mad, with its run-on sentences, general disregard for the usefulness of punctuation, and the way that he seems to go out of his way to disrupt the flow of his words with weird and unnecessary interjections. I read a couple of his books when I was younger and decided it was just too much effort on my part to get to the good stuff, so I went on my merry way.

All of these issues are still there. But I guess I’ve mellowed over the years, because it wasn’t as annoying to deal with them. And, of course, it helps that Stephen King knows how to write a damn good story.

What I found most interesting about the novel is how different the characters were. Carrie and Sue Snell in particular are characterised in very different ways to how they’re portrayed in either of the movies; and I actually think they suffer for it, because there’s a lot more depth to their motivations in the novel.

Interestingly, while neither of them really fits the description of Carrie in the novel, I actually think that Chloe Moretz fits the part better than Sissy Spacek does – aesthetically speaking. Of course, having said that neither of them were really close to the Carrie described in the book; and there is that unfortunate matter of Moretz’s acting..

Seriously, what happened here? I think Moretz is great normally, but she was just so…flat. Oof.

I could pick at more things about the 2013 Carrie, but you know what my real problem was? It seemed to be caught somewhere between the novel and the 1976 Carrie, setting itself up for failure by trying to recreate certain elements of the original movie, rather than just doing the smart thing and really embracing the original material. There were always going to be people that took exception to the idea of making another version of Carrie, because the 1976 version is just so iconic. Frankly, it seems strange to me that, knowing full well that this was the case, they didn’t try to make this version as different as possible – and sticking closer to the novel would’ve allowed them to do exactly that.

I think that doing this would have given Moretz better material to work with, too. She’s best in those moments after the pig’s blood is dropped on her head, exactly because it allows her to bring something darker to the character; and this darkness is something that novel Carrie has plenty of. She’s not really a sweet and misunderstood character, she’s been beaten down and twisted by her life experiences. I just wish they’d shown more of that.

Even with its flasher special effects, and its few moments of moving away from the path set by the 1976 Carrie, 2013 Carrie just seems like a lot of missed opportunities, really. And that’s really unfortunate, because it could’ve been something great in its own right.

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