Back in the early aughts, remake fever was hitting pop culture like a mad rush, and even major television networks were getting in on remaking classic horror films. From “Helter Skelter,” to “Salem’s Lot,” no classic horror movie was off limits. 2002’s “Carrie” doesn’t just remake the Briand DePalma movie for a contemporary audience, but attempts to spin the entire story in to a potential television series for NBC. I’m not too sure what direction they would have taken Carrie in her own series. Perhaps she’d be an anti-hero, or someone who helped other troubled supernatural beings while traveling on the road with Sue Snell. Who knows?
Angela Bettis is expected to take the Carrie White role and amp up her dysfunction and emotional turmoil to eleven, which in and of itself is a feat. Bettis, while a strong actress, just doesn’t fit well as Carrie White. Told through flashbacks through the framework of a police investigation set after the vicious slaughtering at the prom, Sue Snell recalls much of Carrie’s exploits and what led to her demise. The movie is set up as a glorified pilot, so it’s very serialized, and given a pat question mark ending that undermines the tragic fate of Carrie White. And how did Sue know everything that went on with Carrie when she wasn’t around, exactly? Was she under surveillance? 2002’s “Carrie” is a flimsy often low budget production that dials down the shock factor. The movie comes off as amateur with distracting shaky camera work when it’s not stealing entire scenes from DePalma’s original, wholesale.
The remake does work in certain areas that the original lacked, taking the leap forward and depicting Carrie not only slaughtering her entire prom, but the town she inhabits. Much like the novel, Carrie destroys her whole town in a rage and, in spite of the horrible special effects, director David Carson at least tries to stage her whirlwind of emotions manifesting to mass deaths. There’s also the improvement of the school principal. Rather than being utterly inept in the original, the principal (played memorably by Laurie Maddoch) is only ignorant due to his overwhelming work. There’s a scene included where the father of villainess Chris attempts to coerce the principal in to allowing his daughter to attend the prom at risk of a lawsuit. And the principal challenges him in a very sly delivery of words and equal threats that make him a principal that may not know everyone in school, but knows how to stand up to bullies.
There’s also the alteration of Chris’ boyfriend bullying her in to not only garnering the pig’s blood, but in pouring it on Carrie during the prom. She herself is a victim of manipulation and intimidation, but the script never expounds on that to make her empathetic. That said, “Carrie” is cheaply put together and lacking in any flair of style. DePalma turned “Carrie” in to an almost hazy supernatural fever dream, while director Caron just goes through the motions. NBC really seemed intent on slapping together a mini-series that would also be a pilot, but instead it’s just a lame retread that’s twenty minutes too long, and drones endlessly with scenes that add nothing to the overall resolution. “Carrie” is a brutally boring mini-series, and Angela Bettis adds nothing to the character. She already had her version of “Carrie” with the excellent “May,” it’s sad she has to play the role all over again with a very forgettable results.