I approached this movie with a certain amount of bias. I was aware of what would transpire during the climax of the film, (as in, seeing Carrie get covered in pig’s blood and subsequently murder everyone around her,) and having both read and seen movie adaptations of Stephen King’s “The Shining” and “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption,” I was aware of the strange style of narrative that might progress throughout “Carrie.” Also, having seen that it is being re-made for 2013, and taking into consideration the recent trend of needlessly re-making perfectly fine films which has made it’s way through Hollywood, I assumed that the movie must be quite good.
My assumptions were correct, although not quite in the way that I expected. During the movie I had trouble discerning whether certain aspects of the story were strange to me simply because of the different time period it was filmed in or the actual storyline. For example, the opening scene with the girls showering was full of gratuitous nudity in my opinion – but then, I’m not sure if that is truly indicative of school life in the 1970’s. When I was in middle and high school, there were no showers taken by anyone in gym class and certainly no nudity, so I found myself viewing this scene with a cynical eye and the thought that this part was put in the film just so the audience would have the pleasure of viewing naked women. While I could dismiss this scene and others that indicate the age of the movie – such as the scene where Miss Collins and the principal are blatantly smoking inside the school, which would never happen in current times lest the school get immediately shut down – others I found confusing in my effort to analyze. The scene were Miss Collins explains the punishment to the perpetrators of the heinous tampon throwing act was odd to me. Never have I heard a teacher use foul language to illustrate a point to students, (“What you did was a really shitty thing,”) nor do I understand the punishment doled out to these girls. So wait, these jerks abused this poor girl Carrie for no reason and then all they get is some free workout sessions right before prom?! How is that punishment? Is this something that was common in the 1970’s or just what King envisioned high school to be for the purpose of the story? That being said, although I questioned certain parts of the plot, overall I was impressed by the movie’s honesty regarding abuse in the home, and I also enjoyed how seamlessly Carrie’s powers intertwined with the ‘regular’ lives of the other characters, as if the movie were not sci-fi but merely drama.
Putting the aforementioned questions of the story aside, this movie had a superb quality to it in other aspects. I was most intrigued by the cinematography, specifically the shot of Tommy Ross and Sue watching T.V. before Tommy tells Sue he will agree to taking Carrie to the prom, and the circular shot of Tommy and Carrie dancing. The former shot was great in it’s structure and positioning of the television in between them, emulating how imperative T.V. has become in the American home. I have the inclination to believe that this is an accurate depiction of life only 40 years ago, but to be fair that inclination is influenced by shows like, “That 70’s Show” in which the T.V. is the central aspect of the teenager’s lives, (which seeing as how I did not even exist in the 70’s, might be an ignorant conclusion, but I work with what little I know in these beliefs.) I also enjoyed the circular shot because it was the only one in the film, making it more significant than films these days that seem to employ this technique too often for my taste, (this is me taking a stab on Dreamgirls, but I have no regrets in said stabbing). The fact that the camera seems to spin out of control is a remarkable indicator of crazyness to come, and I enjoyed it.
I also enjoyed the acting. It’s hard to imagine a story where I could readily believe John Travolta was at all interested in the breasts of a woman, but bless his heart, he gave this part 110% and for a while I actually could see him as the boyfriend of the insane, messed up and twisted “Chris.” Sissy Spacek was fabulous; I can certainly see where the nominations arose from her performance. It’s not commonplace for me to laugh at two people crashing a car and being engulfed in flames, but Nancy Allen was just so good at playing the bitch role that when she perished I couldn’t help myself, I was so tickled. The mother was great too, although rather disturbing, but I suppose that was the point of her character so I must give kudos to her as well.
All in all I could appreciate the movie as the complete package, full of action, suspense, drama, and even a little romance before the MINDLESS DISGUSTING AWESOME GORE. I do worry though, that the message I found in the film was lost to the viewer, which could be an indication of either the one-dimensional mindset of the average viewer or just my overly analytical and somewhat snobbish nature, but you can take your pick. What I saw as the main point of “Carrie” was the human being’s inability to truly listen to another – right from the beginning as the principal constantly calls Carrie, “Cassie” even when being told her real name multiple times, to the end where Carrie perceives kind people like Ms. Collins as being her adversaries, wiping them all out in a single blow without discretion as to the innocent or the guilty. It is this misinterpretation, this ignorance and faulted perception which causes these broken relationships to catapult themselves into catastrophes such as the burning and destruction of blameless people on prom night. It is the stupid and mindless actions of bullies such as Chris which turn torment into tragedy, all from the failure of accepting each other as fellow people and being willing to listen to what one another has to say.
“Carrie” was certainly strange, but it is Stephen King, after all. (I’m just glad that creepy firehose made it’s way into this movie since it certainly didn’t appear in “The Shining.” I guess producers felt they had enough creep factor to not include a scene which I’m positive inspired Joey from “Friends” to put said book in the freezer, but I digress.) In conclusion I find, “Carrie” to be a fantastic film, although I must agree with my boyfriend who, at the end of watching it – which he had already seen, unlike me – stated, “You see? I told you this movie was fucked up.”
This was written in Fall 2016 for a Film History class taught by Jonathan Eig at Montgomery College. The picture is NOT mine, nor do I claim credit for it, and was taken from the site of a fellow wordpress member here. Please check Steph B out!