Snoozefest in Red.
CARRIE (2002) is the TV movie remake of the 1976 Brian De Palma feature film, from the Stephen King novel of the same name. And it shows.
Director David Carson (STAR TREK GENERATIONS) seems so acutely aware of his film’s low production values, he thinks he can make up for them by adopting the method of MTV Loser-Cam. He – will – not – stop SHAKING THE CAMERA. It’s like watching that footage of your wedding filmed by your cousin. And since the book and movie were already written and filmed by two of the best proponents of their crafts, TV writer Bryan Fuller (STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE) just had one job: Don’t Fuck It Up. And couldn’t even do that one job.
The tale is the same – of the 17-year-old awkward outcast Carrie (Angela Bettis, GIRL, INTERRUPTED) getting revenge on her bullying classmates and religious fanatic mother when she gains telekinetic ability after her period begins.
She has that first period in the girl’s locker room showers, where the rest of her hot teen peers humiliate her. TV movie protocol, so no throwing of tampons and shouting “Plug it up!” (like the original film), rather, just banging hands on walls chanting “Period! Period!” We’re not buying any of it. Especially with that godawful camera shake.
Patricia Clarkson is Carrie’s supposedly domineering mother, yet all the insane bible-babble and frothing-screaming arguments of the original have been reduced to the intensity of two people deciding what to watch on TV. Jesus on the cross looks pissed. Probably because of the soporific soundtrack and equally soporific television performances.
The sympathetic Phys Ed teacher is Miss Desjarden (Rena Sofer, who brings the Amy Irving eyes). The good girl is Sue Snell (Kandyse McClure), who asks her boyfriend (vapid Tobias Mehler) to take Carrie to the prom, as a reconciliatory gesture for her shower meanness. The bad girl is Emilie de Ravin who teams with her boyfriend (Jesse Cadotte, who has all the menace of any given boyband badboy) to dump a bucket of pig’s blood on Carrie at the prom. Whereupon everything explodes and almost everyone dies, including Carrie (or so we think).
Credit where it’s due: plain, skinny, flat-chested, anemic, knock-kneed Bettis as Carrie is excellent casting, and plays Carrie’s telekinetic episodes as trance-states where she cannot remember, and has not got control over, her actions. She’s like the Hulk of telekinesis. Also, the story more closely follows events in the novel, as opposed to the 1976 De Palma film, which took cinematic liberties: the tale being told from many second-person reports, fireballs from the sky, the name Ms. Desjarden reinstated, Carrie crushing her mother’s heart rather than crucifying her, etc. (Although, following the novel is not necessarily a plus when in the context of this badly-filmed production. It’s just a shout out to the hardcores.)
The story is told in flashback with Sue Snell recounting it to a smarmy detective (David Keith). We wonder why even Sue seems snide – the detective tells her, “You should be devastated after such an incident, but you seem calm” – and we discover this TV movie was intended as a pilot for a series (oh, heaven help us!), so the ending is totally upended and rewritten, with Carrie still secretly alive, and bound to travel the country with Sue, using her telekinesis to help people. (She IS the Hulk of telekinesis!) At last, a bad idea DIDN’T get picked up by television networks and the ignorant ponytails who work for them.
Thank the power of Pissed Off Christ for small favors!