Reviews: Carrie

One of the all-time great horror films.

I first watched the 1976 version in middle school, at a time when a number of bullies were giving me trouble. Perhaps that's why it left such a big impact on me; that, and the fact that I saw it just a few years after Columbine, near the height of the big anti-bullying campaign that occurred afterwards. Ten years later, I still rank Carrie as my absolute favorite horror movie, one that's more relevant now than ever, and which I feel should be required viewing (or reading, in the book's case) in high schools as an anti-bullying measure. Sure, teenagers don't have psychic powers, but they can get guns...

Creatively, it still holds up after 36 years. The fact that the film is a slow burn that builds up its characters (for more than just twenty minutes) rather than relying on jump scares is a relief in the modern age of in-your-face gorefests. Not that it's without any good jump scares; sadly, the big one at the end was spoiled for me by my grandmother, who maintains that it's the scariest movie moment she's ever witnessed, so I didn't get the full impact. Piper Laurie and especially Sissy Spacek deserved their Academy Award nominations, and director Brian De Palma likewise should've gotten recognition for his work here, most notably the way he shot the entire prom sequence. This isn't an FX-heavy flick; there's almost no gore, and there are only three big "set piece" moments near the end. If you're looking for that, you'll be disappointed.

The original book by Stephen King is also a great read. It isn't King's best, but it's one of his shortest, so it's a great introduction to his work, especially if you're a teenager. On the changes from page to screen — the book's a bit more action-packed during the climax, some characters are changed/merged in the film, and the Framing Device is different, but overall, it's essentially the same story in both versions. Regarding the 2002 remake, it's not awful, but not nearly as good as either the book or the '76 version. Angela Bettis is good as Carrie, and it stays closer to the book (apart from the ending), but most of the other actors are subpar and it relies too much on bad CG. I'd only recommend it for those who can't watch R-rated movies for whatever reason.