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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.