Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Carrie (2013): Book vs Film

I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the new remake of Carrie and actually really enjoyed it. But how does it compare to the original Stephen King novel on which it's based?

For me, Stephen King is one of the greatest storytellers of our time. In Carrie, his first published novel, King proved he could not only get into the mindset of a teenage girl but that he could also go to incredibly dark places and weave a story together at a slow pace, leading to one of the most shocking endings ever written.

In the novel, King switches between the running story of Carrie and the reports done after the fact. Carrie's story is a tortured one. Firstly, she gets her first period and thinks she's dying, then she continues to struggle to deal with all the bullies at school. On top of that, she discovers that she has telekinetic powers. There's also her self-harming, religious fanatic mother to contend with!

It's a lot for her young shoulders to take but King moves fluidly between her 'present day' story and reports of what has come before. There are interview transcripts and reports from people who met her over the years like the neighbour who spoke briefly to Carrie when she was a toddler. There is more information on Carrie's life earlier life and more explanation as to what happened to her now absent father. By switching between the two, King paints a picture piece by piece and with every page, the reader better understands who Carrie is and her sheer strength at having managed to get this far! The story is not just hers but also that of her classmates: Sue Snell, who grows a conscience and decides it's time somebody did something nice for Carrie, and Chris who wants quite the opposite.

The book really builds to the now infamous explosive finale and, after the prom scene, has one of the most chilling deaths ever written - a death which has been changed for the purposes of both this film and the earlier 1970s version.

The main difference between book and film is that the film pays no attention to the backstory, choosing to interweave the key points - namely the relationship Carrie has with her mother - into the present without looking at the reports or stories found the book. The focus is very much on the here and now and, with it, the fundamentals of the story remain.

A massive change in this remake is that the story has been brought forward to our present day. The horrific bathroom scene which opens the story is now filmed on mobile phones and put on YouTube, something they obviously couldn't have done when King originally wrote the story. It works, however, and makes the film feel that much more current. The plot still resonates today so it makes sense to bring it up to date.

Chloë Moretz and Julianne Moore are both equally stunning in their respective roles as Carrie and her mother Margaret. The horror of both the psychological and physical damage Margaret inflicts on her daughter remains for the film, including one shocking use of a Bible! More is also made of Margaret's self-harming and the loving way in which Carrie tries to calm her moods. Moretz somehow manages to be both sweet and innocent and completely terrifying and handles the role with a maturity way beyond her years.

Overall, the film manages to remain loyal to the original but be brave enough to break new ground at the same time. The book remains utter perfection: endearing, horrifying and chilling.

Carrie is out in the UK Friday 29th November 2013. The book is available to buy now.

Book - 5/5
Film - 4/5

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