Stephen King’s Carrie is one of the best book to movie adaptations of the 70s about a teenager who suffers in the hands of her religious fanatic of a mother and at the same time endures the bullying of her classmates at school. When Carrie discovers that she has the ability to move things with her mind (telekinesis), a malicious prank on the night of her high school prom results in horrors beyond the imagination of her tormentors.
Carrie is a cult classic so much so that Carrie White has a pretty solid fanbase among horror afficionados. Filmmakers who decided to do a reboot of this horror classic in 2013 knew that they had big shoes to fill going into production. For the titular role, they cast the talented Chloe Moretz who slayed as Hit Girl in Kick Ass franchise and made her mark in mainstream movies like Hugo and gritty indie films like Hick. For Carrie’s psychotic mom Margaret, the studios enlisted no less than award winning actress Julianne Moore to reprise the part earlier portrayed by Piper Laurie. For sure, there was no shortage of talent in the fresh cast but the 1972 classic starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie White was scary as heck, and holds up even thirty years after it was originally released in theaters. So, how did the reboot fare? I give you a head to head account.
CARRIE: Sissy Spacek vs Chloe Moretz
Don’t get me wrong. I love Chloe but for the record, Sissy was more consistently creepy than her counterpart. Chloe’s Carrie was a tad lopsided, appearing extremely weird in some parts yet earnest and normal in some. She was also too pretty to be tagged a weirdo, and the kids in her school must really be idiots not to see her as beautiful. Sissy’s Carrie was more effective because she looked plainer and acted like a weirdo for the entirety of the movie. All of her actions supported her reputation. In the prom scene, Chloe was more demonstrative and used bigger movements but for Sissy, it only took slight gestures and a menacing stare for the entire room to run screaming. She totally kicked ass.
MARGARET: Piper Laurie vs Julianne Moore
Piper Laurie was a formidable Bible-wielding fanatic, spouting passages from the Holy Book and passages about witchcraft and demons on a regular basis in the original movie but somehow, Julianne Moore’s self mutilating, obsessive take on the character made more of an impact.
SUE SNELL: Amy Irving vs Gabriella Wilde
A tie but Amy Irving made more of an effort.
TOMMY ROSS: William Katt vs Ansel Elgort
William Katt was great as Tommy Ross. He looked the part of a nice guy who genuinely wanted the outcast to feel special during the prom. I don’t know, but there’s just something about Ansel Elgort’s look/smile that makes him appear insincere and up to no good, despite his good guy role. Still, in both versions, it was kind of lame for Tommy to die because of a bucket that fell on his head. The bucket didn’t really seem all that heavy.
BILLY AND CHRIS: Nancy Russel and John Travolta vs Portia Doubleday and Alex Russel
I must admit that the modern day versions of these two troublemakers takes the cake simply because of the sheer malice that they inject into their roles. Portia’s Chris was a Class A bitch which makes the efforts of Nancy Allen seem like child’s play. And let’s get real. John Travolta’s Billy only got in on the prank because of the promise of sex but Alex Russel’s Billy relished the opportunity to hurt the animals and humiliate Carrie. Guy oozes evil.
MAYHEM AND CARNAGE
Both versions pretty much followed an identical storyline but the 1972 version takes the cake for this category because of Carrie’s indiscriminate rage. The girl totally gave a whole new meaning to the term “seeing red” as she subjected the entire gym to her fury, sparing no one in her revenge. While the 2013 version was more specific in exacting justice, with Carrie killing off her oppressors systematically, Classic Carrie’s carnage was slightly more subtle but infinitely more menacing. When she burned down the gym, it was a given that everybody who was in there did not survive. And her rage! Her thirst for vengeance was palpable with every step she took and the blood looked much more vivid especially since it was accented by the red light and the fire. Even when I watch it now, I get an urge to run for the hills. Points though for 2013 Carrie’s send off for Billy and Chris. It was a very cool death scene indeed, and well deserved.
DIRECTION: Brian de Palma vs Kimberly Pierce
While Kimberly Pierce has the advantage of better editing tools and special effects, old school wins by a mile in this Carrie face-off. Brian de Palma’s establishing scenes and use of sound accentuates the creepy vibe that the Whites have. The loop of Margaret’s manic warning “They’re gonna laugh at you” was an excellent touch on the part of the classic that magnified the intensity of Carrie’s thirst for blood.
All in all, Carrie 2013 did not do too shabbily against its classic counterpart. It made only slight modifications to the story which made sense, considering that it updated the story to relate to a new market. It has a lot of things going for it but I slightly preferred the classic over the reboot this time around for the reason that its simplicity enabled it to develop Carrie into a character that people can relate to and identify with no matter what generation they belong. Despite Carrie’s weirdness and lack of ability to fly (unlike her updated version), people root for her even during her eventual unfolding because they understand where she is coming from. And this is a testament to the directing skills of Brian de Palma and the imagination of Stephen King who spawned the story.