on 21 January 2014
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend the screening of the new film adaptation of Stephen King's novel, "CARRIE". At first I was somewhat disappointed that it wasn't as faithful to the Stephen King novel as I hoped it would have been, but that's to be expected when you've been a devoted fan of the novel for almost ten years. After watching it on the big screen tonight, I can confidentially say that it definitely stands on its own as a solid film. My only disappointment is the running time of the theatrical cut. The pacing is good and quick, but it felt as though it could have been longer to flesh out the characters and tell the story properly. I do know for a fact that a lot of scenes were filmed, but were dropped from the theatrical cut during the editing process. Kimberly Peirce said in a interview that the original cut of the film was longer and a lot different than what we saw in theatres. I just hope the studios release a 'Director's Cut' on DVD and Blu-ray sometime down the track.
Chloe Grace Moretz (Carrie White) and Julianne Moore (Margaret White) give a solid performance and make their leading characters their own. Judy Greer (Miss Desjardin), Ansel Elgort (Tommy Ross), Gabriella Wilde (Sue Snell), Alex Russell (Billy Nolan) and Portia Doubleday (Chris Hargensen) give a solid performance and make their secondary characters their own. Director Kimberly Peirce does an excellent job focusing on the mother and daughter relationship, as well as the bullying aspect of the story. Composer Marco Beltrami delivers an incredible score which is hauntingly beautiful and unique in its own way. Cinematographer Steve Yedlin does a phenomenal job with the visuals throughout the film. There are a lot of scenes that are psychologically disturbing and emotionally moving -- it definitely makes you feel for Carrie. Even though there are a number of similarities to Brian De Palma's 1976 film, I do believe that Kimberly Peirce's film captured the true essence of the Stephen King novel.
I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but I personally don't see "Carrie" as a typical Horror story. Having a final jump scare just diminishes the point of the story. It cheapens it. Since it's more of a character-driven story, I see it as a Drama (maybe Thriller?) with elements of Horror. Yes, Stephen King's work is known as "Horror" or "Thriller", but the story of Carrie just doesn't fit into the Horror genre by today's standards. Lawrence D. Cohen and Brian De Palma took the novel and turned it into a generic Horror film. I think that's why a lot of people have classified the story as "Horror" -- it's implanted in their mind. If you dissect the novel layer by layer, you will see that it's a tragedy culminating to a horrific event. And what's scary is the realism of the story: religious fanaticism, sexuality, bullying, abuse, revenge, etc. How many incidents have we seen in the past where people take matters into their own hands after being pushed too far? It's a timeless story that fits in any era.
Do I believe that it was necessary for the story to have been re-adapted for a new generation? Yes. Today, bullying has become a major issue in our society, especially on social media. Take a look at the school shootings and teenage suicides that has occurred over the years. Remember the Columbine massacre that happened in 1999? Two boys were treated as outcasts by their high school peers and in the end they were hellbent on revenge. The same thing applies with Carrie White. Yes, it may be a fictional story of a girl with telekinetic powers, but it does make you stop and think. She was an outcast at school who was regularly tormented by her peers. She suffered emotional and physical abuse from her overly religious mother. And in the end... it was a tragedy. I just hope people take heed of the dangers of bullying and understand that a person can only be pushed so far before they break.
I genuinely believe that "CARRIE" stands alone as a solid film and highly recommend that people watch this with an open mind. The 1976 film was a horror, this is a tragedy.
Here's a bit of information regarding the film...
Having read the original screenplay by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, I can safely say that the original script didn't follow the same structure as the 1976 film. I will admit there were a few homages, but it was a whole new take on the story. Before the film was delayed in January 2013, there was a lot of positive feedback from those who attended the first test screenings in December 2012. A number of people confirmed that the original cut was longer and a lot different than the theatrical cut.
I remember watching a video on YouTube where two guys reviewed the film (without giving away spoilers) based on what they saw at the test screenings. They confirmed that the film was a lot different to Brian De Palma's film and was more closer to the Stephen King novel. I personally believe that the studios interfered with the editing of the film. The theatrical cut wasn't what Kimberly Peirce wanted to release in theatres. It's like they [the studios] re-cut the film and gave us a scene-by-scene remake of Brian De Palma's film. I knew it wasn't Kimberly's voice in the movie -- it was the studios.
A friend of mine, who is a filmmaker, gave their two cents as to what might have happened...
The original cut was all ready to go in March, then the studios looked at the release date and thought they could make more money on "Carrie" during the Halloween season. So they demanded re-shoots and multiple re-edits to make it more Horror. It would explain why Lawrence D. Cohen (the writer of the 1976 film) was credited after the film was delayed -- they re-shot a number of scenes from the 1976 screenplay. The downside to the re-shoots and multiple re-edits is that a lot of scenes would have to be dropped or trimmed to fit the new running time by the studios. The shorter the film, the more viewing sessions the film has.
Based on fan speculation, test audience feedback, and certain confirmed details concerning the film -- the deleted and/or extended scenes include:
-The original opening was a flashback of Carrie as a little girl spying through a fence on a female neighbor who is sunbathing. The young woman notices Carrie and starts to make conversation with her. Carrie tells her that she can see her "dirty pillows" and the neighbor explains to her that it is normal for women to develop breasts when they get older. That's when Margaret White appears and snatches up Carrie, screaming and yelling at the neighbor. She calls the young lady a whore, telling her to stay away from her child, and Carrie gets upset and begins to cry. Suddenly, it starts hailing. Pellets of ice come down on top of Carrie's home while Margaret runs into the house trying to console her daughter. The neighbor just stares in disbelief as the hail rains down on the White residence, and only the White residence.
-The White Commission [The film had integrated several courtroom scenes with witnesses giving testimonies of their experiences with Carrie White leading to the prom incident, essentially structuring the film as a series of flashbacks and recollections. The neighbor from the alternate opening scene is shown at first, now an adult woman, recounting her experience. There is also a scene featuring a TK Specialist discussing telekinesis and saying something to the effect of Carrie being one of many people who may be born with this genetic anomaly. It's been said that the White Commission scenes revealed too many prom survivors which the filmmaker's felt spoiled the climax]
-There was 'found footage' that played a role in the film. That's why you see Freddy 'Beak' Holt carrying his camera and filming everything.
-There were scenes detailing more in depth character development.
-There were scenes involving Facebook, the e-mail sent from Chris to Donna Kellogg. "So I'm out of prom and my [censored] father says he won't give them what they deserve."
-"Wipe that smile off your face." - Chris to Carrie at the pool.
-The locker room scene [Extended] - Chris turning the cell-phone toward herself and the mean girls.
-Chris and Tina kiss [Extended]
-Tommy and Sue's backseat sex scene [Extended]
-Billy's wild ride [The "blow--- scene" - similar to the 1976 version]
-An interaction between Chris and Carrie outside the dress shop.
-The confrontation between Sue and the mean girls.
-Carrie levitates Margaret [Extended]
-Drive to the pig farm [Extended]
-After Tommy leaves the table to get some drinks, Carrie and Miss Desjardin have a friendly and meaningful conversation.
-Carrie and Tommy kiss.
-Billy kisses Chris.
-Margaret claws her way out of the closet and goes over to the sink where she retrieves a butcher knife and cuts herself.
-Sue tries to call Tommy from outside the school to warn him that something bad is about to happen. He rejects the call.
-The prom scene as a whole, which was said to be longer and more violent than the theatrical version.
-Tina on fire [Extended]
-A scene or shot which reveals George Dawson and his girlfriend's fate.
-There were some really creepy stuff that was unfortunately cut during post-production, like some "dancing" dead students. My source is not completely certain about this detail or its placement within the film. But it was either in a deleted scene where Carrie snaps the limbs of prom-goers or during the electrocution scene which was supposed to be more graphic and longer. In the novel, it was described as a "crazy puppet dance".
-The scene of Carrie levitating outside of the burning school was actually re-shot. In the original version of that scene, Carrie was standing on the centre of the lawn, waiting for the remaining surviving students to come out of the burning school before killing them one by one with her telekinetic powers.
-After Carrie leaves the school, she begins to destroy part of the town by causing explosions and bringing down power lines as she follows Billy and Chris. You can see the first few seconds of the town destruction from the aerial view. If you look closely behind Carrie, you can see that several cars are in flames.
-When Sue is outside the school with Miss Desjardin, she sees Tommy's body being carried out on a stretcher. Miss Desjardin tells Sue that she's sorry and Sue walks away with determination to find Carrie.
-Margaret's original death scene - possibly similar to the book version which depicts a heart attack caused by Carrie's power.
-The multiple endings
1) The first ending is very similar to the ending of the 1976 film but without the final twist: Sue Snell actually gets killed when Carrie pulls her into the ground.
2) The second ending is an exact replica of the original film where Snell gets pulled into the ground by Carrie but wakes up in her bed to find it's just a dream.
3) The third ending is after Carrie saves Sue by pushing her out of the house, which collapses from the falling stones. There's a bird's eye view of the wreckage of what used to be Carrie's home before we get a quick CGI zoom through a pit of debris, to a close-up of a now bloodied Carrie snapping her eyes open.
4) The fourth ending is of Sue making a final speech to the court where she says the line heard in the teaser trailer about Carrie being just a girl, not a monster. This is spoken over scenes of Sue and her family visiting the cemetery. Sue goes to Carrie's grave, which shows the headstone tagged up and vandalized. She leaves her flowers and just walks away. Nothing scary, just a very somber closing shot of the headstone.
5) The fifth ending is after Carrie's house is destroyed by the falling stones. The movie flashes forward to several months later and we see Sue in the hospital surrounded by doctors and nurses, ready to give birth. They're trying to calm her down but Sue begins to struggle, saying she feels something is wrong. Suddenly, a very bloody hand (covered in afterbirth) erupts from between Sue's legs, reaching up and gripping her arm. She screams in terror and we see that she is having a nightmare, being held down by her parents while the camera pans over to a wall where we are shown a large crucifix hanging in her room.
6) The sixth ending is described as a "morning after voice over" by Sue Snell as we see the town coping with what happened.
7) The seventh ending shows the town the morning after Carrie's attack filled with news crews, reporters, and cops talking about the whole thing. What's bizarre about this scene is that Carrie's destruction of the city is being described as "a conspiracy." Apparently the town is "trying to cover up what really happened."
There is an online petition for a Director's Cut to be released. The petition has gained almost 10,000 signatures (I think?), so I'm curious to see how that will turn out.