Carrie Gets Spooked…Twice

blessingssissyspacek
Carrie, 1976

This week, I look at a couple of reviews of Carrie.

Overall, the critics agree on most points (it’s pretty bad); it is in the telling that I find interesting.

The amount of spoilers in the reviews is staggering. They tell all: the opening scenes of each movie, plot changes between the two versions, original lines of dialog that remain in the new version, the physical appearance of each Carrie and each mother, the exact impact of technological advances on the plot in the remake …I’ll stop at that.

Well, folks, you are in luck! I was able to read the full reviews. As someone is immune to Chicken Pox because they already had it, I am immune to Carrie spoilers because I saw the original when it hit theaters in 1976. (BTW, I am also immune to Chicken Pox.)

You shall get no spoilers from me, but I will tell you the plot: based on Stephen King’s novel of the same title, Carrie is about a teenager who has an overbearing fundamentalist-Christian mother. She is teased at school; she discovers that she has telekinetic powers; a prom ensues.

Here are my reviews of three movie reviews of Carrie, each by a critic with a pronounced writing style–

1. The Pretentious Critic:  David Edelstein, Vulture.com (10/18/2013)

(Edelstein is ubiquitous in three types of media. He has written for New York Magazine, for the web on Slate.com and Vulture.com, and for the radio: he reads his reviews on Fresh Air, one of NPR’s radio shows.)

To get Edelstein’s opinion of the movie, look no further than the title of the review–

On Its Own, Carrie Is Just Uninspired; Next to the Original, It’s Atrocious

To get the full import of Edelstein’s prose, look to how he describes the original Carrie:

Brian De Palma’s 1976 Carrie is well-nigh perfect — a lyric, Expressionistic horror classic with the greatest female performance (by Sissy Spacek) in genre history….

To appreciate Edelstein’s self-respect, note how, within one paragraph, he passes judgement upon kids in general, the “the Glee generation” (whatever that is), and Director Kimberly Pierce (I put in the bolds):

I imagine kids will line up for Carrie, though — it panders to their sense of entitlement, and it ends with a tidy anti-bullying message….Maybe the Glee generation will even prefer this version… Kimberly Peirce should hang her head in shame.

Carrie, 2013
Carrie, 2013

2. The Intellectual Critic: Peter Rainer, Christian Science Monitor, October 18th, 2013

Rainer’s eloquent disdain for the remake:

Peirce doesn’t have DePalma’s dirty-minded adolescent temperament or his voluptuous sense of dread. 

The power of Rainer’s intellect:

–DePalma’s piece was a frightful piece of japery about a teenager….

Japery: (n) practical joke

(from dictionary.com)

 —The final image is a tired frisson….

Frisson: (n) sudden, passing sensation of excitement, a shudder of emotion, thrill.

(from dictionary.com)

Carrie Creator, 2012
Carrie Creator, 2012

3. The Alliterative Critic

Christy Lemire, Christylemire.com (former reviewer for the AP and RogerEbert.com)

Pulling quotes from Christy Lemire’s review, I pose two Q’s. You’ll see literary techniques she uses in bold. One technique is alliteration. (That’s the only one I can identify at this time of night):

Q: Why is the first Carrie better than the current one?

A: There was something shockingly raw about DePalma’s direction; the performances and the very presence of Sissy Spacek as the skittish title character and Piper Laurie as her smothering mother seemed almost animalistic in their purity. 

Q: What would you think of Carrie if it were not a remake?

A: If this were the only “Carrie” that ever existed, we probably would all view it as a sturdy and startling example of the genre.

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3 thoughts on “Carrie Gets Spooked…Twice

  1. Kendyl, It seemed like the first critic couldn’t get past his disdain for kids these days. Or he has teens, who have become obnoxious (not uncommon).

    You’re right! It doesn’t end with a “tidy” anti-bullying message whatsoever–or at least the first one didn’t. It was definitely a heavy hitter of an anti-bullying movie and the message was out well before the end.

    When I went to the first movie I was 15 and I was too bored to even care about an anti-bullying message, and I was bullied as a kid! It was billed as a horror movie, and I didn’t feel many frissons (vocab word from second critic). When the surprise came at the very end, one guy in the audience jumped up in frustration and yelled, “This is ridiculous!” and stomped out of the theater. That was the best moment of the film!

    Lastly, what a relief that you compared the first and second movies to the book! I absolutely think that the mainstream critics should have compared the movie to the book–and if they believe, which seems to be the case, that the second one is a remake of the first one, then at least compare the first movie to the book.

    By the way, I think that a blog focused on movie adaptations is brilliant! I am about to download a podcast. (http://adaptationpodcast.com/)

    Thanks for writing!

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  2. I’m glad that you included that question about if 2013 were the only Carrie, because I said just about the same thing when we reviewed it. If you’ve read the book, there is so much that they left out in the first one, that they could have made an entirely different film this time. Plus, I read somewhere that 2013 was meant to be a more faithful adaptation of the book… and it definitely gives book fans some little moments, but it’s basically just a remake of the first film.

    I also love how the first guy talks about the anti-bullying message as if that is the dumbest message in cinema. I mean, it’s certainly not the only theme in Carrie (book or film), but this story has always stood out to me as the ultimate anti-bullying hit over the head, and it’s not even about the fact that she killed a bunch of people, which is certainly the wrong way to deal with it. But it’s about not knowing what someone’s home life is like for them, or what they are dealing with. The anti-bullying message pretty much gets across to the viewer before prom even starts.

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