What’s the Point of the New Carrie Remake? Is There One?

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
April 5 2013 5:41 PM

The New Carrie Remake Looks Pointless

In the new trailer for the remake of Carrie, the horror film about an ostracized teenager who gains supernatural powers, the eponymous character is bullied by classmates, locked in a closet by her fanatical mother, asked to prom by the cute, popular jock, and drenched in blood on what is supposed to be the happiest night of her life. “They’re all gonna laugh at you,” warns Carrie’s mother, repeatedly, parroting a line made famous by the original.

Aisha Harris Aisha Harris

Aisha Harris is a Slate staff writer.

This is a remake, so it’s expected that most of the central plot points are going to be the same as in the original. But if the marketing team behind this Carrie wants to convince audiences that they should check it out come Halloween—rather than just revisit the Brian De Palma classic—they could do more than show a number of scenes that echo, beat-for-beat and nearly shot-for-shot, the film that garnered a young Sissy Spacek her first Oscar nomination. Instead, there’s nothing here to suggest that Boys Don’t Cry director Kimberly Peirce will have anything new to add to Carrie’s story, and that’s unfortunate—especially given that this will mark the first time the mother-daughter film has been directed by a woman.* (You’ve probably forgotten, but Carrie was remade once before, as a 2002 TV movie directed by David Carson and starring Patricia Clarkson.)

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Of course, the ’70s and ’80s horror genre has seen an uptick in remakes (as opposed to sequels) over the last few years: Since 2003, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween have all seen attempts to restart the franchise after multiple sequels. While the most unadventurous of them have proven completely unnecessary, they’ve become expected, and (reluctantly) accepted as the way Hollywood works.

But the original Carrie is not quite the same kind of horror film as those slashers. While it might not be a masterpiece (though some may argue otherwise), it does feel a bit more sacred than, say, Friday the 13th. That’s because, to name one reason, it’s not just a vehicle for thrills, but also a twisted attempt to understand the female experience, coming closer to the esteem of Rosemary’s Baby. Even Stephen King has expressed his own reservations over this remake: “The real question is why, when the original was so good?” he told Entertainment Weekly. “I mean, [it’s] not Casablanca, or anything, but [it’s] a really good horror-suspense film, much better than the book.”

Entertainment Weekly also reported that the film is going to be a “more faithful adaptation” of the book, so perhaps that’s a development to look forward to. But when even Stephen King acknowledges that De Palma’s film was better than his book, what’s the point?

Correction, August 4, 2014: This post originally misspelled Kimberly Peirce's last name.

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