Keep Calm and CARRIE (2013) On

Do not keep calm. In no way whatsoever is this a film about which one can remain calm. Freak out. Immediately. There’s so much blood! I haven’t seen this much blood since SWEENEY TODD (2007).

Without making the new remake of the movie any more violent, director Kimberly Pierce emphasizes the imagery of this inciting event by adding waaaaay more blood to her Carrie. (Ms. Magazine)

carrie i

It makes sense that the movie would be rated R because of all the blood (and violence, and death, and swearing, and things on fire), but the film doesn’t read as a horror film in the traditional sense. The suspense and the spine-tingling fright is absent from this movie, which focuses much more on the psychological intricacies of the characters. This is a hallmark of Stephen King‘s story-telling style – twisting the normality of a conversational narrative into something horrifically surreal.

Five Things I Love About CARRIE (2013)

The director is a woman

kim pierce

Director Kimberly Pierce is a longtime friend of CARRIE (1976) director Brian De Palma. As a female director, Pierce brings out the sympathy of the female characters in contrast to the pornified male gaze approach of the 1976 film. She highlights the biologically female motifs that are inherent in King’s original novel. One way she does this by provided the characters with more screen time to develop their backstories and motivation. She also employs a great deal of literary/cinematic imagery and language to emphasize the significance of blood, menstruation, and birth – the full female reproductive cycle.

There is a diverse range of female characters

No two female characters in this movie are alike. The high school girls are not all portrayed as giggling idiots – each of the speaking characters portrayed a different series of motivations. As we see Carrie’s (Chloe Grace Moretz) character develop, we also watch Sue’s (Gabriella Wilde) understanding of herself change, just as we see Chris (Portia Doubleday) become increasingly inhumane. The gym teacher Desjardin (Judy Greer) represents the female mentor who is disconnected just enough that her attempts to help Carrie fall short of saving her.

carrie desjardin ii

The relationships between the female characters are complex

The 1976 film was primarily focused on the relationship between Carrie and her mother (Julianne Moore), but the 2013 version also develops some of the tertiary relationships. We are given some insight into the friend/hateship between Sue and Chris when we watch them battling it out over how to treat Carrie. It is also fascinating how the three main high school girls, Carrie, Sue, and Chris, each have a completely different dynamic with their gym teacher Ms. Desjardin. While she takes the mentoring role with Carrie, she has a purely antagonistic relationship with Chris. Although we see Sue struggling almost as much as Carrie, with her teen pregnancy and the ethical dilemma she is trying to navigate, she is not given a mentor. Instead, Desjardin takes a suspicious stance against Sue and her boyfriend Tommy in a bid to protect Carrie.

carrie sue snell

Carrie and Margaret’s mother/daughter relationship if rich with contradictions

Carrie’s relationship with her mother is still the focus of the film’s narrative. While the 1976 version starts with the locker room shower scene, Pierce’s version starts with Carrie’s birth. This provides the relationship with a rich backstory that colors the rest of the movie, providing us with significant information: A.¬†Margaret White didn’t know she was pregnant. B. She thought she was dying of cancer. C. Her first thought was to kill Carrie. D. Something stopped her from killing her daughter. In the penultimate scene of the movie, Margaret shares the story of Carrie’s conception with her daughter, complicating their love/hate, protect/destroy relationship even further. This web of contradictions binds the two women together, necessitating their twinned demise in order to save each other from themselves.

carrie and momma

Some of the characters are more sympathetic, while some are more evil

Carrie, Margaret, Sue, Desjardin, and the boyfriend Tommy (Ansel Elgort) are softened significantly. The performances and direction portray the internal thought processes of good people who are trying to maneuver through complex moral issues: bullying, friendship, neglect, abuse, love. In the horrific prom scene, Carrie’s wrath is not turned on these allies. She positively mourns over Tommy’s death, prevents Sue from entering the destruction, and saves Desjardin (albeit not gently) instead of targetting her as she does in the previous film. We also see a lot more people walking away from the Prom of Death and Fire in this later version.

carrie prom

However, the meanies in this movie are really cruel. Chris’s character transforms over the course of the film from a puerile high school bully to a maniacal beast. She becomes increasingly hostile towards her friends and the extremity to which she is willing to go is exhibited in the scene in which she viciously garrottes a pig without even blinking an eye. Her ultimate demise perfectly fits her blackened character.


Final Analysis

CARRIE (2013) is as much a cinematic gem as its predecessor, if not more so. The story line is thrilling without being cheap. The characters are complex without being obscure. The imagery is profound without being too academic. This is a film that can be both watched and read, with high entertainment value as well as depth and meaning. It’s a great Halloween film too, because THERE’S JUST SO MUCH BLOOD!