Since it was the first major thing he published, little wonder “Carrie” has had a longer and more robust multi-media life than almost any other Stephen King novel.
It was a novel, and then obviously a very well-liked Brian De Palma film with Sissy Spacek, and then a much-much later sequel that no one remembers, a huge terrible infamous Broadway musical bomb, a TV remake, and now, if MGM and Screen Gems have their way, another remake.
And oddly, I’m not opposed to the idea.
There is a reason “Carrie” keeps coming up, a reason people keep returning to the material. There is something potent about the idea of the outsider looking for acceptance and getting snubbed, something rich in the notion of the cruelty of teenagers, and something brilliant in the concept of budding sexuality tied to the unleashing of terrifying powers. King hit the jackpot with that book, and De Palma’s film benefitted greatly from the collision of a hungry young filmmaker, the right material, and a cast that was loaded with budding movie and TV stars.
Kimberly Pierce is a genuine talent, a smart filmmaker whose “Boys Don’t Cry” is a stunning look at how hard it is to not fit, and if you look at it structurally, it’s shaped a lot like “Carrie.” In both films, there is a period where the outsider starts to be accepted into a group, only to lead to a huge rejection and a terribly sad and violent conclusion. Pierce would seem to be a great choice to tackle this story, and of course it’ll all come down to casting. Spacek was a great Carrie in the ’70s, and even though the TV movie remake doesn’t work, casting Angela Bettis in the role was a great decision.
Do we need another “Carrie”? Well, maybe in this age of renewed focus on bullying and the way it affects people, there is some juice left in this one. I could see Pierce making something very strong out of this basic source material if they let her. The last word we had on this, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa was the writer who was hired to adapt the book, and word is that he’s done something very faithful to the book. Pierce hasn’t worked nearly enough since “Boys Don’t Cry,” and something like this could be a big mainstream hit, without her having to compromise her voice in any way. In fact, the more prickly and difficult and painful the film is, the better the chance it has of actually striking a chord with audiences. I think we know the difference between what is real and the ’50s stereotypes of bullying, and for this to have any impact at all, it’s got to be true to the way it feels to be a victim. Carrie White has to be utterly powerless in this world if we’re going to react when her power does finally manifest.
I love De Palma’s film, but I think there’s definitely room for more than one “Carrie,” and for now, I’m excited by the direction this one is heading.