Brian De Palma’s adaptation of Carrie ranks as one of the best film versions of a Steven King story. But while the 1976 version created some fantastic moments of cinema history (the splitscreens, the slow motion, everything Piper Laurie) the remake coming out at the end of this week still has plenty of untouched source material to work with. Here are afew suggestions of things that director Kimberly Piece hopefully considered adding to her version of the high school horror tale.
1. Actual Teenagers: While Sissy Spacek’s performance was perfect for De Palma’s heightened, surreal atmosphere (and even earned her an Oscar nomination), if the new Carrie is looking to be more faithful to the book, one thing they can do is cast actual teenagers. Chloe Grace Moretz is actually 16, so we’re off to a good start.
2. “Flexing:” Much is made in the book of how hard Carrie has to work to channel her powers. She practices every night, slowly working her way up to moving heavier, bigger things, until she can flip cars with ease. That’s what makes the climax so terrifying — she’s making the conscious choice to torture everyone, and since this new films looks to be more of a horror and less of a suspenseful drama, anything that makes Carrie White more evil in the final act is a good idea. This also adds to the whole arc of the story: Carrie is a put-upon girl who would have been able to be accepted if only people had listened and gotten out of her way.
3. People Vote for Carrie: In the 1976 film version, the evil girl Chris replaces all of the actual Prom King and Queen votes with ones for Carrie. In the book, sure, Chris is scheming, but the student body also just seems to get on board with Carrie, who actually proves herself at the prom and has a good time joking and hanging out. It makes the ending that much better, and this a story where everything is in the ending, right?
4. Childhood: One mistake audiences often make is that Carrie’s powers are activated in the beginning of the movie. Instead, she’s had them since childhood, and her mother’s control actually stems equally from fear that they will return. The book has a fantastic story, told from the perspective of a neighbor, about a four-year-old Carrie bringing a rain of stones down on the house after her mother punishes her.
5. They Are Going to Laugh At You: In the 1976 version, Carrie just imagines the prom guests laughing at her, but in the book, such is that they can’t help themselves and really do. Because, if we’re being honest, high school is really, really embarrassing and awkward. And Chris is, in the end, pulling a prank. A cruel prank, but still. The slowly mounting horror is even better when offset because the characters just can’t help but laugh… until it’s too late.
6. Sue At Home: There’s probably not much time in a feature film for nicest-of-the-mean-girls Sue’s entire arc, which includes worries about college, a pregnancy scare, and falling in love with Brad (the sap who ends up taking Carrie to prom). But in the book, the only reason she isn’t murdered by Carrie is that she chooses to stay home from the prom, giving us a window into what’s happening in the rest of the town. Which leads to —
7. Get Rid of the Whole Damn Town: In the novel, the carnage goes far beyond just the school gymnasium, enough that the premise of the book is an exploration of one of the greatest American tragedies. Given that technology is no longer a hindrance, hopefully we’ll get to see the full range of what Carrie can do.