TV Movie: “Carrie (2002)”

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Horror classics are classics for a reason, which is usually disregarded once the remake comes out. Seldom, if ever, does a remake do anything more than irritate you in that special way only remakes can.

The television film “Carrie (2002)”, was conceived with good intentions, but then only managed to hit so many walls.

This TV movie stars Angela Bettis (“Tom Holland’s Twisted Tales”, “Criminal Minds”), Patricia Clarkson (“The Maze Runner”, “Last Weekend”), Rena Sofer (“Chicago PD”, “The Bold and the Beautiful”), Kandyse McClure (“Haven”, “Hemlock Grove”), Emilie de Ravin (“Once Upon a Time”, “Lost”), Tobias Mehler (“Red Sleep”, “Briefcase (Short 2012)”), Jesse Cadotte (“Century City”, Jake 2.0″), Meghan Black (“Class of the Titans”, “Max Steele: Forces of Nature”), Chelan Simmons (upcoming “Wedding Planning Mystery”, “Christmas Bounty”), Katharine Isabelle (“Hannibal (TV series)”, “Being Human (US TV series)”), and David Keith (“Reckless”, “Outlaw Prophet: Warren Jeffs”).

This movie was directed by David Carson (“The Dresden Files”, “Blue Smoke”), and written by Bryan Fuller (“Hannibal (TV series)”, “Mockingbird Lane”). It is based on the book of the same name by Stephen King.

The film originally aired on the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) on Nov. 4, 2002.

I love how when you don’t plan things, they just pop up, and you can’t really ignore them at all. It’s just amusing. Such is the case here with this film. I’d just gotten done watching the newest remake of the classic film “Carrie (1976), when up pops this version the following day. Wow! I couldn’t plan something like this. So, of course I had to watch it as well, for comparison’s sake as well as because its been some time since I saw this version. And apparently there’s a lot that I forgot happened.

Okay, so I’m going to be honest here. Shocking, right? No? Okay. For a TV movie, this… wasn’t bad. It was actually pretty good and less obnoxious than the newest version. It was also, and this is what I loved the most, far more faithful to the book than the other versions. Sorry original “Carrie”, it’s true. Like with the third version, I had to look up what happened in the book so I could see how things stacked up to the source material. It turns out, that it was pretty faithful.

Being faithful wasn’t the only upside to watching this film as I quickly discovered. Some of the characters were a tad more interesting. Bettis was the right amount of timid and awkward and that helped when it came to sympathizing with her. After having seen Chloe Grace Moretz in the role, there’s something I definitely liked a lot better with Bettis in the role, but I can’t completely figure out what that is. It could have something to do with the way some of the scenes were designed to move the story in a similar manner to that of the book.

The next character that I saw as being far less annoying, and interesting was de Ravin as Chris, the head bully. Not only did she have a pretty flawless American accent, but she also was less over the top with her acting. She didn’t come off as some reject from “Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal”, like the newest portrayer did, and believe me, that’s all I thought. Those girls in that film (“Fab Five”) were horrible horrible people. De Ravin was still vicious, but definitely had a better touch of the innocent young girl.

While I’m not sure if this is good or bad, as this character seems likely written as such, but there was something new to love about the gym coach, Ms. Desjardin. She was much more aggressive and mean towards the girls that torment Carrie at the start of the film. While you can roll your eyes at the seeming unrealistic nature of her treatment, it’s still a lot of fun to watch! Definitely makes me hope there are people like this in schools to help those being picked on. She’s a force to reckon with.

Sorry Clarkson, your take on Margaret White didn’t do all that much for me. I think, in fact, you managed to be less interesting than even Julianne Moore’s take on this character. Probably because this film was on TV the way that the religious themes were handled had to be done sensitively. Strange, but it’s TV and everyone is overly paranoid with what gets put on the air. Sure you could see that her character was a fanatic, but it didn’t come close to being disturbing or otherwise. She was also too tame and came off as less threatening. The relationship almost seemed on really good terms because of this.

As I said at the top, this film is far more in line with the book, and that’s what annoys me about the new one. The new one claimed it was going to be more faithful. Yeah, right. It only makes me believe more that the new remake is simply a remake of the original. This film included in a flashback, a scene where Carrie’s neighbors are shocked at the behavior from Margaret, and shows even more, how unstable she is. There’s also the rocks that come raining down from the sky. Then there’s the fact that a big portion of the town was destroyed, along with the high school, as it was in the book. Sure the imagery kind of sucked, as it was special effects and probably a low budget, but it was good enough. A creative aspect I liked, which could be annoying, was that there’s an active police investigation, led by Keith’s character. The film cuts back and forth and the films events are shown as recounts of what happened. This keeps in line with how some information was told in the book.

While all that I’ve mentioned thus far is fine and dandy and good, it doesn’t place this film in my must have section, or watch again anytime soon. Mainly and simply, it wasn’t scary. The prom scene did turn out pretty well, and had a more appropriate score accompanying it, but it wasn’t frightening at all. Nothing can compare to the original. It also didn’t have much good acting. It was merely passable for a TV movie. Then there’s the whole alternate ending and leaving it pretty open ended. Instead of dying at the end, Carrie and Sue fake her death. Complete departure! Why? I’ve read that NBC was hoping to use this as a springboard for a TV series. Fortunately and sadly, the ratings it seems weren’t what the network expected. Dodged a bullet there. While it gives it a happy ending, it’s still annoying that they couldn’t commit to the ending it came with.

Horror remakes, and remakes in general, are the ugly stepchild of the film industry. These films are only annoyingly made because some studio wants some quick cash. While some have done decently, that doesn’t mean they come with even a small amount of originality. More often than not, they’re carbon copies. The plus for this remake is that some scenes, that are crucial to the film, are approached entirely different. While that’s great, it still can’t help save this sluggish film and only succeeds in banishing it to the realm of unnecessary and bad remakes. I can only hope studios learn that nobody wants these films. Hopefully before we start seeing remakes of films from five years ago, although, those are typically branded as “reboots”.

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