High school is a horrible place. Everyone is really cruel. The popular kids, pick on the nerds, the nerds dump on the popular kids, and the kids left in the middle, they pick on and make fun of the nerds and the popular kids. But there is always that one kid. The kid who sits at lunch by himself, he never says a word and boy does he get dumped on the most.
That's why the Stephen King's classic CARRIE will always appeal to mass audiences. She's the quiet kid who's always getting picked on. It prays on our irrational fear of the one who is a little odd, but it also gives us a glimpse into our own hurt psyche. We've all been put upon in our lives. We've all be humiliated by the people around us, and we all wish we could gat back at out enemies.
As I sat through the recent television remake of CARRIE, all I could think of is how I am Carrie, but I'm also the one who has destroyed people like Carrie. It's the human condition, I guess? It's that ever-present darkness we all have in our hearts. No matter how we try to suppress it.
Angela Bettis (May) plays Carrie White, a high school senior with a legalistic mother and the whole world against her. She's quiet, introspective, and really naive about what's going on the world. So of course all the girls in school pick on her, and tease her. They are downright cruel at some points.
Little does anyone know, but quiet Carrie has begun to develop weird powers. She can make things move using her mind. But when another prank goes wrong, Carrie goes medieval and takes no prisoners.
Angela Bettis was born to play Carrie and she is great. She has this innocent and yet dangerous look about her. She gives Carrie this poised quirkiness that the film desperately needs. You can see how each humiliation wears away at her façade, and without Bettis's small but subtle character changes, this simple and yet so complex character would fall apart at its seems.
I especially liked the scene in which she's waiting for her prom date Tommy (Tobias Mehler, Disturbing Behavior) to arrive. He's late, and she thinks she going to be stood up and as the minute's progress the furniture slowly begins to rise off the floor. That is a great sequence.
The supporting cast also does a great job Patricia Clarkson's (Far From Heaven) performance, as Carrie mom is one of true evil and even a little sympathy. She generally cares for Carrie, too bad she's so bad at showing it to her daughter. To bad she's been duped into the lie that legalism can save your soul. I like that it has more dimensions than Brian Deplama's characterization of Carrie's mom in the original film.
Rena Sofer (TV's ED) is also very good as Carrie's tough as nails gym teacher, one of Carrie's only supporters. She walks that thin line between feminine and bitchy without turning her character into a farce. I liked how she handled her gym class, when they obviously deserved worse, and I loved the small conversation she has with Carrie at the prom. Sofer is one great actress.
Director David Carson (Star Trek: Generations) visual style is also refreshing. Much of the film is shot with stylized steady cam and disjointed camera angels. While many times this technique can be distracting. It works really well for this film, and is never distracting.
My only qualm with this movie is pretty trite. Since it is a TV movie some sequences are a little choppy because of commercial breaks. I wished they had fixed some of the editing at these points for the DVD. Because I found it distracting that they would go to black only to come back to the same shot. It's also a tad overlong, and some sequences drag on merely to stretch the running time. But they are few and far between, so forget I even mentioned them.
This new CARRIE is really good. It has a great cast, a nice visual sense, and aspires to do something new and different. I would recommend you see Deplama's film before you see this one. But don't let that discourage you from giving the new CARRIE a look.
This is one of the best Made-For-TV movies I have ever seen.
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