When I first heard there was going to be a television remake of Carrie, I was super siked. Although I was only eleven years old at the time and it was unnecessary to remake an already classic movie but for those of you who don't know this is more based on the book than the Brian De Palma movie. At first I thought I liked it but through the years I noticed the bad acting, bad writing, and horrible, horrible CGI effects, which again was not needed but hey it's a TV movie, they had to think of something right? But in the end, it's not really all that great though at least, Brain Fuller, who later give his writing credits to the hit show Hannibal, did put some effort with this, so the risk they took with this version is worth the take.
The Story: Misfit girl with unexplained powers decided to take her revenge on her vicious classmates on Prom Night.
The Acting is....not all that great. Though Angela Bettis did an alright performance, she is nowhere near as good as Sissy Spacek, and it's not particularly an Emmy-winning performance, however, she is still a very underrated actress and did a somewhat decent job. Also Kandyse McClure did an okay performance and not to mention Rena Softer as Miss Dejardian. It's just that the rest of the acting seemed forced and not all believable.
I thought the casting of Angela Bettis was a pretty good idea. When I looked at her, she seem to perfectly embody a high school outcast, though I could tell that Angela Bettis doesn't "look" like a high school student. She was pushing thirty at the time and looks it. Sure, Sissy Spacek was twenty-six during the filming of the original but at least the filmmakers made ways to make her believable as a high school student. But In my honest opinion, the filmmakers should've casted Alison Pill in the role. She was around the same age as the character around that year and fit the psychical description of the character and had the right emotional range to carry that role.
Besides all that, again, Angela Bettis did an alright performance, she wouldn't hold a candle to Sissy Spacek but at least she tried. The character of Carrie leans more towards the book version, Being a bit more talkative and is able to stand up against her mother. Also in this version, they seem to make her cationic and to be suffering from anxiety, going into nervous spats, like jittering and shaking in a trance-like state once her powers take over her.
But what bothered me the most about this version is how they make Carrie extremely powerful. For example, she can lift up a two-ton desk across the room, lift up a person on a bike in mid air, and crack open a chalkboard. I know it's a build up to how Carrie is not in control of her powers but the filmmakers pushed it up to 11 that I couldn't take it seriously anymore. In addition to her powers, she seemed to have premonition as indicated in the prom scene before the pigs blood is dumped on her, it's an interesting touch but still overdone.
For now that's all I should say about Carrie because those of you who haven't seen this, there is a major spoiler about her that I should leave in the middle of the review.
Margret White played by Patricia Clarkson was a bit stiff. Don't get me wrong, Patricia Clarkson is a good actress, it's just the way the filmmakers portrayed the character which is bit, well, safe.
I think they were trying to make her more cold and calculating, however, I liked when Margret was a little crazier, a little bit more manic. That's how Piper Laurie made the character memorable with her over the top, zealous performance. But Patricia Clarkson next to her seems too soft in comparison. She came off like a strict schoolteacher and it just didn't work for me. With this version of Margret, there's just nothing for me to look in upon and therefore I have to leave it at this note.
Sue Snell played by Kandyse McClure, actually did a decent enough job, At least she's better than most of the supporting characters in the movie, who'll I will take a riff on their acting later.
And just to add this, This version of Sue maybe of a different race but I swear she has the uncanny resemblance to Amy Irving's Sue. It's like they were separated at birth.
Anywho, what the filmmakers did different was have a much more deeper connection between Sue and Carrie. The scene where she helps Carrie with her makeup was really sweet and is one of the few scenes that I liked in this version. What I also like is how she is treated as an ally and is able to give Carrie the confidence that she needs, not just some girl who's giving up her prom date out of pity.
Speaking of Prom Date, Tommy Ross played by Tobias Mechler was just eye candy. Sure, there's really nothing about Tommy in the book but at least William Katt gave him a personality and charm in the De Palma version. So Tobias, Cute guy, not high on acting chops.
Chris Hargensen played by Emile De Ravin was....not a great performance. She will become a better actress over time but upon seeing her in this, she came off rather bland and was trying too hard.
As for the character of Chris, she leans more to how she was in the book: A spoiled, entitled Daddy's girl who happens to drive into the dark side under the influence of Billy.
Billy's actor by the way is terrible. He tries too hard to be this aggressive bad boy mixed with sociopathic tendencies, it just didn't work for me.
Unlike the De Palma version, Billy is in control of the whole pig's blood prank and seems more adamant on humiliating Carrie, without even knowing of her, making him more ruthless and vindictive rather than dumb and manipulated by Chris. It is he who is the manipulator.
I would also give a special mention to Katherine Isabelle, who is again wasted in another giveaway role as one Chris's henchwomen. She supposed to be the equivalent to PJ Soles' Norma but she didn't make it very memorable and therefore she just faded away into the background most of time becoming the typical annoying cackling villainess. She plays Tina in which unlike in the book, she is in on the prank and becomes the instigator, turning the pig's blood prank into full circle.
Which leads us to the climax: the prom scene. Though it's what you expect basically with lots of countless CGI, ripped off from Final Destination and random objects flying towards the screen, due to the low budget.
However, the one thing I liked before the chaos starts was the reaction of the prom goers. In this version, we see the actual reaction and they are in genuine shock with the exception of Tina and her boyfriend. And once Carrie snaps and all hell breaks loose, it makes the scene quite effective.
The main thing I liked about the 02' version is the subsequent police interviews by the people who had the most experiences with Carrie, making her this mysterious entity. It doesn't make the movie better but it does give a whole new perspective on the source material.
But wait there's a twist and I wouldn't have known that this remake of Carrie would have a twist at the end:
Turns out, Carrie is alive after all. And Sue helped her clear her name. When I first discovered upon this, I thought, how awesome is that but now that I realize it, Sue just helped someone get away with murder. Who is a mass murderer at that. It just makes the outcome of it kind of hollow. The purpose of this was to make this into a television series. Yes, this was actually a pilot movie with Sue becoming a recurring character. The plot of this was to have Carrie move to Florida of all places to connect with other people with the same telekinetic abilities. This would've been an interesting concept but I didn't think was going to be executed very well. So due to the low ratings of the pilot movie, the idea fell through.
So there you have it, the TV remake of Carrie. I seem to like the ideas they had with it instead of the movie itself. I mean, it has a lot of things going for it but in the end, it's very forgettable and nothing noteworthy to talk about.
The Verdict? Go with the original. It has a much more organic feel. Whereas to this version, it's more of a analytical study than a psychological coming-of-age horror story with none of the powerful essence of the both book or the 1976 movie.
My last word: If you want to go for it, since it adapted heavily from the book but for all that it's worth, the Brian De Palma film is and always will be the better movie.