Carrie ★★½

The original Carrie is my favorite movie. It has everything I love. Horror, lust for revenge, female empowerment, complicated vengeance, tight storytelling, uncanny visual style, split screens and viewer culpability.

I could never bring myself to watching this remake. Until now.

As a Carrie and De Palma stan, what I'd love most is if this film did its own thing. Wasn't afraid of the original and had its own voice with its own narrative direction. Yet every scene is an exact narrative beat replica of the original. I don't want to compare this to the original, yet Kimberly Peirce, who is a very good director, keeps showing me side-by-sides of the two. This may be from studio notes telling her the fans will be mad if you go in your own direction, yet as someone who has Carrie in flames tattooed on my leg, I got frustrated that this movie is being made out of fear.

*Spoilers for both endings from here on out*

So the third act hits, and there's a moment this version of Carrie starts to become very interesting. The lead up to the prom, we're getting more of a face of the crowd. We're being introduced to new characters, including Tommy's best friend and his girlfriend, both completely innocent and from another school. There's a doom hanging over the prom that is honestly more felt at times than the lead up to the prom in the original.

Now Carrie (2013) is made at a different time where there's more fear of mass deaths in High Schools thanks to mass shootings. Carrie 76 is essentially what's now become known as a mass shooting before that was ever a thing. But Carrie 2013 has that knowledge while making the film. And the lead up to the prom gave me that icky dread that we are about to experience a mass shooting. Like the beats leading up were coming from someone who knows what daily school shooting are like.

But all of that excitement is destroyed though by the way Peirce handles the firey massacre. Now I know I said earlier that a different narrative direction is good, but it has to come with a good WHY are you changing it also.

Carrie 76
is not a linear revenge story. It's an indictment of the audience's lust for violent revenge that manifests in a mass killing of characters who had nothing to do with a prank. Remember, the ones who dropped the bucket leave. And no one is laughing at her in 76 version, that's her vision that is ignited by her mother's paranoid warnings that they're all going to laugh at her.

So weirdly, long before school shootings were a thing, De Palma handled the massacre much more responsibly. While Peirce adds a moment where the whole school is cackling at her, feeding the viewer's need for revenge.

The other huge change in this version is Carrie saves the gym teacher, her leading supporter and advocate. The gym teacher needs to die. That is the solidification that Carrie is a monster, she's gone too far, revenge is a drug, and we the viewer are the dealers since we rooted it on.

By making Carrie responsible in her massacre, it's essentially showing a "responsible" school shooter. In 2013. 14 years after Columbine. Yikes!

But responsibility aside, it just makes a far less interesting film. The horrors of what Carrie White does in 76 sits in your stomach for years after you watch it. It makes you feel like you're responsible for it. It incriminates the viewer in a way that is so magical that it makes it my favorite movie. It's the power of film to the nth degree.

While this version, making Carrie more responsible and making her actions just straight justified revenge to feed the viewer's needs, is why I'll probably forget about this movie the second I post this review.

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