Carrie DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by MGM
Directed by David Carson
Written by Bryan Fuller, based on Carrie by Stephen King
2002, Region 1 (NTSC), 132 minutes, Not Rated
DVD released on August 12th, 2003
Angela Bettis as Carrie White
Patricia Clarkson as Margaret White
Rena Sofer as Miss Desjarden
Kandyse McClure as Sue Snell
Emilie de Ravin as Chris Hargensen
Tobias Mehler as Tommy Ross
Jesse Cadotte as Billy Nolan
Katharine Isabelle as Tina Blake
High school sucks. There is no denying that simple fact. Kids are mean, school work is a drag and you go through the biggest biological changes during this time. Yeah, high school sucks, but it sucks more Carrie White than others.
Poor Carrie White. It's bad enough that her mother is the weirdest Jesus freak in the state, but the kids she goes to school with are the biggest bunch of turds in the country.
When Carrie (Angela Bettis – May, Bless the Child) gets her first period, she thinks she is dying. Unfortunately, her mother has never bothered telling Carrie what a period is, so the poor girl was completely unprepared for it. In spite of this, Carrie's mother had a valid reason for her silence on the matter. See, the woman's period is for women who sin and she was hoping Carrie would not get hers. But alas Carrie is a sinner after all. Luckily for the teen, she has her first period in the shower. Well, the school's gym shower. However, Carrie's school chums are supportive. First they circle around the stall and start chanting "Period! Period! Period!" just to make sure Carrie knows what she has having. Then, later on that day, Chris (Emilie de Ravin – TV's "Roswell") and Tina (Katherine Isabelle – Ginger Snaps, Freddy Vs. Jason) instruct Carrie on what to do when she is menstruating by writing "Plug it up" on her hall locker and filling it with tampons. Alas, the school administrators (and in particular the gym teacher) frowns upon kids helping one another and they slap the culprits with detention.
Chris, the most popular slut and ringleader of trouble, does not take to kindly to detention and storms off in a hussy. Well, since Chris skipped detention, she loses her prom privileges. Since she cannot go to prom, it is all Carrie's fault. Seriously, can you blame her? If Carrie hadn't freaked out about her period, none of this would have happened.
Sue Snell (Kandyse McClure – Romeo Must Die), having second thoughts on how Carrie was treated, convinces her boyfriend Tommy (whom Carrie happens to have a crush on) to take Carrie to the prom. Tommy (Tobias Mehler – Disturbing Behavior, Wishmaster 3) being an all around good guy and an all around whipped boyfriend, goes along with Sue's wishes. After some needling and a little bit of begging, Tommy convinces Carrie to go to the dance with him and, as young people usually wish, it's a prom that will never be forgotten.
Oh, did I mention Carrie is telekinetic? Yeah, things seem to fly around on their own whenever she gets angry or stressed. Prom night is going to be stressful enough for Carrie, but what Chris has planned just might really set her off.
Let me answer your first question. No, a remake was not necessary. Well, not really. Apparently the powers that be were shooting for a TV series (probably due to the success of "The Dead Zone") and this was to be the pilot. It looks as if the series was not picked up, so Carrie (2002) ends up looking like a remake for remakes sake, but keep in mind, that is not the case.
As for your second thought, no, this movie did not suck. In fact, it was surprisingly good. Granted, I expected it to be horrible considering not only it was it a remake of a great movie, but it was a made for TV remake of a great movie. Therefore, boobage, sex and profanity are right out the door. That's okay though, this updated version has a great script, a competent cast and gets as close to nudity as it possibly can. Well, boobs would have still been nice. DePalma's shower scene is missed.
There are a few things I really liked about Carrie (2002) over DePalma's version. The first is the portrayal of Billy (Jesse Cadotte – Scorn), Chris's boyfriend, as a little homicidal is much more faithful to the book then John Travolta's goofy drunk guy of the 1976 version. While not onscreen that much, you still get the impression that Billy has some real serious issues. Cadotte did a wonderful job of coming across as a lunatic, especially since he did not have many lines.
Also, Angela Bettis does a great job as Carrie. Admittedly I am a little biased because I'm not a big Sissy Spacek fan, but I prefer Bettis's portrayal of Carrie over Spacek's. Don't get me wrong, Spacek is a great actress and did a terrific job in DePalma's version, but I feel Bettis better handles the role of a mentally beat down high schooler than Spacek did.
While there is good, there is inevitably bad. For instance, while Patricia Clarkson (The Green Mile, The Pledge) does a decent job as Margaret White, Carrie's mother, I don't think there is an actress on this planet that can touch the intensity that Piper Laurie provided in the original movie. Well, maybe Kathy Bates could pull it off, but that's debatable too. Clarkson plays a much more sedated Margaret, while Laurie seemed to have anger and fear coming off her in waves.
Also, I preferred William Katt's Tommy Ross from the original over Tobias Mehler's Ross. Not to say Mehler's performance was bad (it was actually quite good), but Katt looked more like your All-American white bread high school quarterback. Since Carrie is the epitome of everything high school, this is important.
All that said, the only thing that really hurts this movie is it does not know what it wants to be. Sometimes the movie feels like the latest teen horror a'la Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, while other times it feels like the movie is paying homage to the original and trying very hard not to be one of the mentioned types of horror. However, there is a very amusing Freddy Prinze reference in the movie that is oh so appropriate.
Regardless, I really liked this version because there were a few things from the book that never made it in DePalma's version. In particular, two scenes stand out. The first is a meteor shower that happened during Carrie's birth. I always felt this was important because it shows the strength of Carrie's telekinesis. The second scene will not be discussed in this review as it is a spoiler.
POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT...
The biggest disappointment in this film is the ending was changed. As mentioned above, I believe this movie was originally intended to be a prelude to a future TV series, much like The Dead Zone. So, reader, you should be smart enough to figure out what happens at the end. Since the series never developed, the movie should have been edited before the DVD was released. As it stands now, the ending simply blows. However, aside from the ending, the rest of the movie is decent.
...END POTENTIAL SPOILER
Video and Audio:
Carrie is presented it's original OAR of 4:3 fullscreen. The picture is sharp and there are no visible marks, scratches, spots, etc. A nice looking movie.
Good songs and a decent score that does not overtake the dialog makes this a fun movie to listen too. 5.1 surround sound and English, French and Spanish subtitles are offered.
HA! What extras? A few trailers. The Carrie (2002) trailer and some others. That's it. Not even a stinking cast bio. I wonder if MGM is aware that the DVD can hold quite a bit of information. Apparently not.
Congratulations MGM, you just earned my first 0 star grade. Make yourselves a mental note, don't throw on a few trailers and call them special features.
You should give this movie a shot and judge it on it's own merits. I understand that it is impossible not to compare it to the original, I couldn't do that myself, but the movie does pay homage to the 1976 version and it does hold its own.