November 2, 2015

The Two Carries

I know I'm late to this party - comparing the two Carries, the one from 1976 and the newer 2013 version. It's been done before, probably a lot. But I found the 2013 version of Carrie on Hulu this morning and, since I've seen the old one about eight zillion times, I automatically started to draw comparisons, not only to the films, but to my own life. Read on to see what I mean.

1. The Two Posters

Poster #1 tells a pretty distinct story: something happened to this chick at the prom and now she's covered in blood and looking deranged. While Poster #2 says: hey, look, a bloody girl. That's it. Also, the first poster uses proper grammar while the second does not... "You will know her name Carrie." What does that even mean? With the insertion of a comma it would have a totally weird meaning. "You will know her name, Carrie." Whose name will Carrie know?! Maybe it should have been a colon. "You will know her name: Carrie" or an elipses, "You will know her name... Carrie." I don't know, but the fact that I'm having to analyze the tagline for meaning doesn't work for me.

2. The Two Carries (Sissy vs. Chloe)

Sissy is a beautiful woman, but let's face it. Redheads look weird without makeup. I can say this because I am a redhead myself and I have the same wan complexion and lack of eyelash color that Sissy has, which is maybe why I identify with her so much better than I do with Chloe. Chloe Grace Moretz is adorable, a little too adorable to play the scorned Carrie White. In real life, Chloe's Carrie would just be a drama weirdo, but probably wouldn't be the subject of such intense ridicule and hatred, while Sissy's Carrie, who looks ghoulish and strange, would definitely be at the butt of some jokes. How do I know this? From experience! More than once as a child I was told, "I don't like your face, freak" and "You look like a ghost" by a member of the cooler class. When I was twelve, my mom and her cousin, Jackie, sat me down and forced me to learn how to apply makeup because "Even a new barn looks better with a coat of paint." Yes, really. That was said to twelve-year-old me, and I still to this day feel ugly when I go outside the house without makeup on. I do it, of course, because makeup is expensive and I'm not about to put it on to go pick up a prescription, but there's that voice of the Cold War-era Southern woman telling me never to leave the house without it, and shouldn't I just be embarrassed! But I digress. Sissy played her Carrie with a cringe-worthy awkwardness that made her almost hard to watch. Chloe's a good li'l actress, but she was clearly miscast in this film. She plays Carrie like a caricature, hyperbolic and overdone. There's no finesse to the performance, and unlike Sissy's, I just can't identify with it.

3. The Two Margaret Whites (Piper vs. Julianne)

I'm too lazy to look this up right now, but didn't Piper Laurie win an Oscar for this role? I think she did. Feel free to "pipe" in on Piper's win (or lack thereof) in the comments. Again, original Carrie's Piper takes the win for me. Julianne Moore is amazing, and she plays the character wonderfully, but I feel that the direction she was given led her to be more menacing than the original mother. Piper played Margaret White with such a deranged glee that it made her just so, so creepy! She smiles as she lunges in to stab her daughter. There's no regret, apology or fear there, just happiness in the knowledge that she's doing the Lord's work. And that is terrifying!

4. The Two Sue Snells (Amy vs. Gabriella)

I liked both Sues. I really did. I thought they both turned in good performances. As with most newer films, the actors are all just a little too perfect for my liking. So, I tend to lean toward Amy Irving's Sue when casting a final vote. And there was a sense that she actually really cared about what happened to Carrie, and wanted to make amends, while Gabriella's Sue is just a touch more distant. But, in the grand scheme of things, both were good.

5. The Two Tommys (William vs. Ansel)

This one's a toughie, because I love William Katt and can sing the entire theme song to Greatest American Hero. But I am also one of those creepy forty-something women who thinks Ansel Elgort is adorable. If I were eighteen again I'd have his Teen Beat posters all over my wall. Is Teen Beat even still around?? Anyway, it's hard. I feel like William Katt gave a nice, albeit corny, performance. And Ansel was his usual adorable self, so it's super hard to cut up anything he does. And I loved the nod Ansel gave to William during the prom-prep montage, where he stopped and looked at himself in the mirror of a tuxedo shop, sporting a ruffly dress shirt and bowtie. I can't pick a winner here - I love them both!

6. The Two Chris'es (Nancy vs. Portia)

Nancy. No contest. When she licks her lips right before she pulls the rope to release the blood, you just know she's a total sociopath. 

7. The Two Whatever-Her-Name-Is'es (P.J. Soles vs.......)

P. J. Soles vs. No-one because P. J. Soles is the queen of everything! I can't even put her up against the actress who played her role in the newer movie, because I just love her so much I'm blind to imitators. You rock, P. J. Soles. You are my hero. I would hang your Teen Beat posters too, just because I want to study and mimic your awesomeness.

8. The Two Gym Teachers (Betty vs. Judy)

I'm giving this one to Betty Buckley, not only because she was raised (and her mom still lives) in the city from which I currently hail, but also because she added a real tenderness to the role that Judy Greer just didn't manage to pull off. 

Don't get me wrong - I love Judy Greer. She's hilarious in everything, because she's a friggin' comedian! She straight-up doesn't belong in this movie. When she says, "You did a shitty thing, a really shitty thing" to the girls on the football field, it feels like she's just phoning it in. But Betty's coach is really pissed and you can tell! There's a genuine sense of dread from the girls in that scene. 

I can imagine being on that field, knowing I'd done something completely idiotic, and knowing that hell was about to be paid because Satan himself was standing right in front of me barking orders. 

9. The Two Proms (DePalma vs. Peirce)

Both prom sequences have their positives, but the original has so much more finesse, and just genuine creepiness to it. There's something to be said for watching William Katt mutter "What the hell?!" but not being able to hear it versus actually hearing the words come out of Ansel Elgort's mouth. The cool thing about the Katt version is that the silence of the scene puts you right inside Carrie's brain. She doesn't hear squat until the laughter of her peers tunnels into her ears all at once and makes her lose it. Plus, you get this awesome split-screen thing.

Carrie's pissed and nobody's getting out of that gym in one piece. The most ingenious thing behind this original 1976 scene is that you are actually rooting for Carrie. Yeah, eff 'em! They all laughed at you and now they get their comeuppance. You don't so much feel that way for the new Carrie. 

Plus, the original has this iconic stage-fire eruption scene that trumps every competitor!

In the new Carrie, you get this...

Fire doesn't so much erupt as it just gets awkwardly flung. In fact, there's a lot of awkwardness to Chloe's final showdown in the new Carrie - it's like she didn't quite know what to do with her arms and face. 

While Sissy knew exactly what to do with her arms and face. Nothing! The only thing that moves is her head when she whips it back and forth to cause mayhem, and then her feet as she walks out of the gym. It's amazing and it totally works!

No weird facial expression here. Just a wide-eyed trance face, expressing nothing. It's so perfect.

I think it's obvious that we have a clear winner here. And, no, Carrie didn't vote for herself. If you've seen either movie, you know she's not into that and only does it under duress. Therefore, I crown thee the superior winner and queen of the Carries.... CARRIE 1976!



Unknown said...

You know, for a re-make, I didn't hate it. And, I like that I got the feeling that Julianne Moore took the roll seriously. Even if it was a little too serious, which leads me to my main complaints about remakes: Why do we have to remake classics, and why do we have to be so freaking serious and "real" when we do re-make them?
Design wise your are so right about the look of Sissy. No make-up really does wonders for the character and the strange look. The original will aways win in my book.

Philoreia Purcell said...

I utterly agree with you, vote for vote [except that I must call a tie between the Mrs Whites -- the '13 version displays a tenderness that is utterly heartbreaking, though in many ways too much so to accompany her death, & manner of death]. The first is unquestionably the better film. Scene for scene, even frame for frame, it has a power, weight, tradgey, & beauty, that is not even approached by either of its followers. I say this as another amelanistic someone who deeply identifies with Carrie {& with her, that is as a person}, who suffered abuse [though not from my dear family, but many other trusted & should-have-been trustworthy adults & kids], bullying, exploitation, & general scorn & cruelty, has unhuman abilities [I am what they call an omnibus prodigy, among other unusual genetic traits], & happens to be a young kid, c.16, of the generation that the new movie was supposedly made for. There is much talk about how this new director is 'more sensitive' to the subject somehow, perhaps said simply because she is a girl, but I do not find this so at all. De Palma portrays the abyss, the heart of human evil, hope, & frailty, the plight of the stranger amongst zer own species, & the divine glory within a shattered world & shattered heart with all of the horror & wonder of Reality in its fullness. The newest incarnation of Carrie's story at once under & over plays every note, leaving us with an histoire of jagged steps & limited dimensionality. Sissy does indeed not only perfectly embody, but indwells, Carrie. From her wounded yet transcendantly ethereal & elseworldly form & manner, to her natural poetry of motion & speech, to her masterful, terrible, wrath, to her childlike unbroken sense of wonder, love, & empathy, she is become Carrie, & Carrie in all her scope, the child, the beautiful soul lost in the dark, the crucified prodigy, the wrath of God, the bloodied lamb. the battered evolution of Man.
When one can hold up a single frame to a single frame & feel a world in one & a simplistic snapshot in another, one knows which is the masterpiece & which the pale imitation; & imitation indeed is '13, resembling as it does despite promises to the contrary the first film adaptation rather than the original book of Carrietta White's story.

Thank you for a clear, insightful, brave review.
Again, I agree!
-Philoreia Florrie F.