Carrie, Carrie, Carrie

Posted 27 October, 2014 by April @ The Steadfast Reader in

As Halloween is upon us and I noticed that the new Carrie film was on Netflix, it only seemed appropriate to do a three way comparison. Since I consider Carrie to be a book/movie that has become a part of our collective cultures, there will be spoilers. But, I’m pretty sure if you haven’t read/seen it already… you still already know about it.

Let’s just get this out of the way up front. Neither movie holds a candle to the original source novel. King wrote an epistolatory novel that also has flashes of into the first person of a few different characters. See my review. But the characters are well fleshed out and there’s just no way that could ever be translated to the screen.  Now that we have that out of the way, let’s compare movies.

I lurve the original 1976 film directed by Brian de Palma and with Sissy Spacek in the title role. But last night I finally got around to watching the 2013 version directed by Kimberly Peirce with Chloe Grace Moretz in the title role. (I liked it a lot too!) I think the easiest way  to do this is going to be a side by side comparison.


Title character – miscast this and the whole movie is going to be ruined. As I said before I lurve Sissy Spacek’s take on this kid, but Mortez brings something different to the character. I think that Spacek’s portrayal is more true to the book, but I love the attitude that Mortez brings to the character after she realizes the power that she wields. While Spacek remains the ‘deer in the headlights’ Carrie throughout the entirety of the film, after discovering her powers and especially after having the pig’s blood dumped on her, Mortez starts to kick ass and takes no names.

Verdict: Tie. I just can’t choose.

Margaret White

Personally, I think it would have been cool to see Sissy Spacek come back and play the role of Margaret White, but Hollywood and its infinite wisdom did not allow for that. Instead we have Piper Laurie in the 1976 classic and Julianne Moore in Peirce’s 2013 version. I loved what Peirce did at the beginning of the 2013 film, seeing Margaret give birth to Carrie, alone, and wanting to kill her because she’s such a fanatic nut was frickin’ brilliant. We get some of that in the ’76 version but it’s done through allusion rather than what the audience actually sees.

I also love how Moore is shown in the 2013 version flagellating herself, using her fingernails, or the seam ripper. That being said, Laurie didn’t pull punches when trying to portray the totally batshit crazy religious mom.

Verdict: Julianne Moore for taking it up a notch with the self flagellation, even if she seems a wee-bit more approachable than Piper Laurie.

Sue Snell

Maybe it was just the seventies realness that left me unable to really connect with Amy Irving as Sue Snell in the original movie. Or maybe it was because I wanted to punch her in the face. But I felt like Gabriella Wilde came closer than Irving in portraying the character as written in the book. In the book Sue really is sympathetic to Carrie and is haunted by her actions in the infamous locker scene even before the main action goes down.

Verdict: Gabriella Wilde, Class of 2013.

Chris Hargensen

The meanest of the mean girls. I love the feathered hair realness that Nancy Allen brought to the role in ’76, but I felt like it was Portia Doubleday brought the true mean-girl/really nasty girl high-school bully to the screen. Two parts masochist, one part scared little girl who counts on Daddy to make it all right. I was disappointed in both versions with the pissing contest that takes place between the principal and Hargensen’s lawyer dad over her suspension and loss of prom privileges. In the book the principal has some incredible balls and promises a counter lawsuit under the theory of locos parentis (which I really don’t think would have worked, but hey, fiction, right?) on behalf of the treatment Carrie receives from Chris.

This was close one, but I think the iPhone update pushes it over the edge for me.

Verdict: Doubleday, for publishing the ‘plug it up’ video on YouTube and for generally just looking scary and entitled.

Penultimate Shower Scene

The opening scene to the novel and the movies – this is the scene that sets the tone for the rest of the body of work. While I enjoyed the updates in the 2013 version, I felt like Spacek’s performance was rawer and realer than Mortez’s performance. I think that Spacek shows a lot more vulnerability that keeps pace with the way that the novel was written. Besides, Mortez is just too damn pretty. On the other hand the cinematography of the original focuses just a little too long to pubescent girls just having and awesome time in the locker-room, which is so far removed from reality I don’t even know what to classify it as.

Verdict: 1973’s performance was rawer, realer, and does a better job at setting the tone for the movie.

Prom Night

In the 2013 version I really think this is where Carrie begins to come into her own. She kicks ass, take no names and becomes judge, jury, and executioner to her tormentors. We also get to see Sue’s pregnancy (she’s not a virgin and she gets to live?! What the what?!). Even in the stances the two actresses are taking, you see Mortez owns the power better than Spacek. I like that.

Verdict: Prom Night 2013, foreveah!

Overall Verdict:
Well, obviously the book wins over any movie adaptation. But I think I’m going to have to go out on  a crazy limb and say that I preferred the 2013 reboot to the original film. It felt truer to the book, the characters were less one dimensional, and I’m pretty sure Peirce snuck some subversive feminist messages in there. It’s also worth noting that school shootings and mass terror wasn’t a thing in 1976, so that made the subject matter of a girl basically blowing up her high school all the more… explosive today?  (Sorry, poor taste.) But Peirce handles the subject matter deftly, and I can’t recall a single cringe worthy moment on account of that type of subject matter.

So, Readers, what do you think? Have you read the book? Seen either of the movies? What’s your preference? Oo! Has anyone seen the musical?

April @ The Steadfast Reader


  • Great post! I have to admit I haven’t seen the remake, but as someone raised in the 70s/80s, I am going to stay true to the original movie. Spacek will always be Carrie for me–Moretz just looks too adorable. Oh, the musical–my eldest wanted to see it, but my youngest was too young for it, and we didn’t get to it before it closed!

  • I haven’t seen either of the movies, and I didn’t even know there was a musical. The book was not my favorite King by any means. It’s such a short book, and I think I just wanted… more. I don’t know. I just wasn’t as invested as I wanted to be.

  • You may have actually convinced me to watch the new version. I usually stay very far away from remakes of films I really enjoy, but you have me interested…

    • I’m usually that way too – hence that it took me almost a year to watch the new one – I can hardly believe that I almost liked it better. 🙂

  • Ok, you’ve definitely convinced me to watch the new version!! I wonder if my parents want to have the kiddo spend the night sometime this week… 🙂 What a fun Halloween-y post!

  • Lost in Literature 108

    Have read the book and only remember parts of the original movie. Mostly the last parts. So I can’t compare the movies. Mom was seriously whack. This is a great, fun post.

  • I’ve never read the book and only saw the original movie. I’m not sure I want to see the new one, but you have tempted me, so….maybe.

  • Kelly TheWellReadRedhead

    You have definitely convinced me to watch the new movie! I saw that it was streaming on Netflix, but was hesitant because I think it only has a 3-star rating. I adore the book though, and knew I would get to it eventually…though it seems it will be sooner rather than later. 🙂

  • I was pleasantly surprised with the new movie. I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would (this is rare for me…)

  • Nishita

    Oh, lovely, lovely. Thanks for this. I love the book, and loved Sissy Spacek and was so annoyed that Hollywood was going to mess with Carrie again. Sounds like they did a decent job, and I must try to catch it sometime.

  • Savvy WorkingGal

    I read this book when my mom wouldn’t let me see the movie when it first came out – funny how she never paid attention to what I was reading. I realized while looking at your two movie comparisons above when I did see the movie it was the TV version – I never saw that shower scene. And what a great idea it would have been for Sissy Spacek play Margaret White. I don’t think I could get my husband to watch either one, so that TV version is going to have to due for now.

  • I haven’t seen the new movie but I liked the Sissy Spacek one. I don’t think If I would read the book. So good to see you blogging 🙂 I suspect you are a busy person but I do miss your posts

  • I was rather glad when I heard about the “remake” of CARRIE since its topic of bullying, religious mania, and school violence would make it even more relevant today. I don’t even technically consider the new version a “remake” as it’s simply a new adaptation of a famous book. Do people get bent out of shape when there’s a new movie of a Dickens, Tolstoy, Fitzgerald, Ludlum, etc. novel?! Sadly this seemed to get really mixed to poor reviews overall. I should still see it. I reread the novel last year and utterly loved it!