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Let’s Rush To Judgment: ‘Carrie’

Filed by KOSU News in Art & Life.
April 9, 2013

Carrie was Stephen King’s first published novel. First released in 1974, it was followed in 1976 by Brian De Palma’s film adaptation, for which both Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie were nominated for Oscars.

King told Entertainment Weekly in 2011 that he didn’t see much need for another remake, though he could see it if the director were “one of the Davids: Lynch or Cronenberg.”

As for direction, the remake isn’t coming from a David (or a Brian or a Stephen): it’s coming from Kimberly Peirce, best known for Boys Don’t Cry. She’s working from a screenplay by playwright and comics writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. The film stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Carrie and Julianne Moore as her keee-razy and terrifying mother. (And, it seems, Judy Greer, who — if we may delicately step around various spoilers — may wind up getting the short end of the stick in this movie even more than she has in all the ones where she has to be the advice-slinging best friend.)

While King’s argument that this remake isn’t strictly necessary has some merit, the bullying and the school violence that lie at the very heart of his story are current cultural terrors in a different way than they were when the De Palma film was made. In the trailer, when you see the girls all taking pictures of Carrie as she squawks on the floor of the shower, it makes perfect sense: yes, it would be worse now, they would film it now, and that prom would be online within minutes now.

The talent stacked behind the remake suggests that, as was the case in the De Palma version, the intent here is not to make cheap horror, but to respect the fact that Carrie is a story in part about the translation of pain into anger and the dangers of kids, not fully in control of the direction of that anger, having the power to turn it on others. King’s best stuff isn’t just scary, though it is scary; his best stuff turns over rocks to find genuine fear, not just of things that aren’t real, but of things like disease and violence that are real. He’s always been partly a social commentator, and Carrie may turn out to feel more, or differently, relevant than it did originally.

It could turn out to be exploitative, but it could also turn out to be the rare update that places a well-known story in a substantially new context that gives it, if anything, greater currency and power.

Carrie is scheduled to open in October 2013. [Copyright 2013 NPR]

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