Oct 7, 2014

Review: Carrie (2002)

Here we are back again with another version of Stephen King's novel Carrie, this time as a TV movie. Apparently this was made in the hopes of spawning a TV series, but poor ratings put a stop to that. Although a quick look at director David Carson's filmography is a bit concerning, at least the filmography of writer Bryan Fuller looks promising. 

It'd be easy to be all up in arms about there being a remake to such a classic film like the Carrie wouldn't it? I think that we can all agree though that a remake is far more desirable than a sequel though. The Rage: Carrie 2 demonstrated that perfectly. I mean, the worst that can happen is that it'll be mediocre right? I don't think they can't screw up Carrie that bad.


Genre: drama, horror, sci-fi
Directed by: David Carson
Produced by: David Carson, Stephen Geaghan, Pen Densham, etc.
Written by: Bryan Fuller
Music by: Laura Karpman
Running time: 132 minutes
Production company: MGM Television, Trilogy Entertainment Group
Distributed by: National Broadcasting Company, Chum Television, MGM/UA Television, etc.
Country: United States
Language: English
Budget: N/A
Box office: N/A

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Angela Bettis, Patricia Clarkson, Rena Sofer, Kandyse McClure, Emilie de Ravin, Tobias Mehler, Jesse Cadotte, Meghan Black, Chelan Simmons, Katharine Isabelle, David Keith, Miles Meadows, Sean Tyler Foley, Laurie Murdoch, Michael Kopsa, Michaela Mann, Jodelle Ferland



Carrie White (Angela Bettis) is a social outcast at her school, without a single friend. One day after gym class Carrie has her first period. She panics, thinking that she's bleeding to death. She's mercilessly taunted by the other girls before Miss Desjarden (Rena Sofer) comes to her rescue. After arriving home, Carrie's mother Margaret (Patricia Clarkson) believes that Carrie has sinned and locks her in her prayer closet to beg for forgiveness. Carrie is tired of living the way she does and starts to discover that she has telekinetic powers which opens up some new doors for her.


The way in which the story of Carrie is told is non-linear. The story is all told in flashback form along with cuts back to the present during interviews with Detective John Mulchaey (David Keith) who is questioning several people. The format doesn't really add anything to the story so I don't really see the use of it. Also, I know that basically everyone is familiar with how the story of Carrie ends because of the original or from having read the book, but because of the story format the ending of Carrie is spoiled before it even happens. I know it doesn't reveal everything about how it ends but it's still a bad movie if you ask me.

Angela Bettis definitely looks the part of Carrie White and I do think that she has some scenes where she does a great job. Her performance overall though is pretty uneven, sometimes even really shaky. Patricia Clarkson as her mother is pretty good, although her character is nowhere near as interesting and freaky as Piper Laurie's Margaret White. 

I can see that this version of Carrie tries to be more faithful to the book but there are a lot of things about the story that seem really iffy to me. The locker room period scene is atrocious compared to the original in how the girls all chant "Period! Period!" which just seems insanely childish and doesn't really get to the same level of cruelty like De Palma's locker room scene does. The scene is also annoyingly edited in an attempt to make the scene have more of an impact. 

Carrie's telekinesis is also poorly handled in terms of her discovering it as well as other people somehow not noticing it. When the school principal annoys Carrie for not getting her name right, she makes his whole desk violently move, while in the original she made a single item fall off. How can anyone not be completely freaked out when your desk completely shifts to the side? Carrie also drives a boy on a bike into a tree and breaks his arm, while in the original he just goes tumbling. These scenes just seem overblown and make you wonder why Carrie has taken so long to come to the realization that she has crazy cool powers.

(Spoilers) The worst aspect of Carrie is that it gets its most important part completely wrong. The prom scene is not in any way horrifying like the original Carrie was. Maybe it's unfair to keep comparing this version to the original but it makes it too easy. The original did this beautiful mix of unease caused by Carrie being bullied which then turned into this almost dreamlike state where everything was magical because her prom night was going so well. Then it all blows up and we get Sissy Spacek being terrifying with blood all over her. That mix doesn't show up in this remake and what makes it all worse is the heavy use of awful CGI. (End Spoilers)

The CGI is an extremely sore point in Carrie because of how badly it has aged. (Spoilers) Carrie White wreaks a bunch of havok in the school and also around town which is something that Brian De Palma wanted to do in the original but didn't have the budget. This version didn't have the budget either but it did it anyway and boy is it hard to watch. (End Spoilers)

The other points I want to add are just how bad the cinematography, editing and soundtrack are. Carrie is messy and annoying to watch with how its filmed and has this annoying habit of making things repeat 2-3 times from different angles, as if it's some kind of action movie replaying a cool explosion. I also can't say enough just how bad the score is. It completely derails several scenes because of how ill-suited and low budget it sounds. It's an awful score.

There's a lot to say about this Carrie and not a lot of good things. I really did not think that this adaptation could be so bad, but it really is. I can't even imagine if somehow this TV movie was a success and spawned a TV series with the same crew. I'm glad that didn't happen and it's best to just let this movie rot away on its own, to be completely forgotten. At least I know that the 2013 remake can't be as bad as this. Right?



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