Angela Bettis - Carrie White
Kandyse McClure - Sue Snell
Patricia Clarkson - Margaret White
Emilie de Ravin - Chris Hargensen
Rena Sofer - Rita Desjardins
Tobias Mehler - Tommy Ross
David Keith - Detective John Mulcahey
Genre - Horror/Supernatural
Running Time - 132 Minutes
A detective named Mulcahey (David Keith) interviews Sue Snell (Kandyse McClure) and other high students about Carrie White (Angela Bettis). Sue reveals that Carrie was treated badly by the other students, due to her strict religious upbringing that made her an outcast. One day in the gymnasium shower, Carrie is shocked to have experienced her first menstrual period, thinking she's bleeding to death. The school girls find out and humiliate her with tampons and disgusting remarks on her locker. Gym teacher Rita Desjardins (Rena Sofer) learns about this, punishing the other girls for bullying Carrie.
Feeling bad, Sue persuades her boyfriend Tommy Ross (Tobias Mehler) to invite Carrie to the prom, giving Carrie her ticket. While reluctant at first, Carrie accepts the invitation. Meanwhile, Chris Hargensen (Emilie de Ravin) wants revenge on Carrie after refusing to follow through with her punishment, costing her tickets to the prom. Chris decides to humiliate Carrie at the prom by rigging the ballot to name her and Tommy Prom King and Queen, then dumping pig's blood all over her. When Chris gets her way, it sets off a dangerous chain of events that were done better in 1976.
CARRIE (1976) is a horror classic that, even today, manages to be one of Stephen King's finest movie adaptations [shockingly since CARRIE was the first King adaptation]. Even after an unneeded sequel [THE RAGE: CARRIE 2] and two remakes, Brian De Palma's adaptation of King's first novel still casts a mighty large shadow over anything related to it. CARRIE (2002) is no exception - a TV remake that was intended to be a pilot for an NBC series in which Carrie would travel through different towns to help other troubled teenagers deal with their issues. Thankfully, the ratings to this remake were low enough to halt any plans for a potential series. Why low ratings? Maybe it's because the sequel had just been released a few years prior, which also didn't do that well at the box office. Or better yet, many people knew right from the start that a television take on CARRIE wouldn't come close to matching the greatness of the original 1976 film.
I've made it pretty clear that I thought the actual novel was average at best. The fact that this remake follows it pretty closely made me lose some interest. The interactions between the detective and the students, mixed within Carrie's story, work much better as text than it does visually. The flow of the film is ruined when you start to become invested in what's happening to CARRIE, which then gets interrupted by this detective questioning certain characters about what they knew about Carrie. The De Palma film benefits from having these moments cut from the screenplay, as Carrie's story is allowed to be told naturally and fluidly. It also allows mystery and suspense, which this remake doesn't allow since we know certain characters survive before the film even ends. I'm not as invested in this narrative. I thought the stuff with the meteors and the sexually liberated neighbors never added much to the story for me, although it's interesting to see some sort of take of it on film.
The only real good things about the screenplay is that it fleshes out the characters of Sue Snell and Chris Hargensen. In this version, we get more in depth as to their actions towards Carrie - with Sue wanting to help Carrie feel like she could belong, while Chris using her father's power to get her way and ruin and girl's life due to a sense of entitlement. This aspect was more implied in the original, so I was glad to see it given more attention here.
Other than that, CARRIE is pretty much similar to the De Palma in almost every way. It's just not as creepy, scary, interesting, inventive, or stylish as the original. Thanks to director David Carson, CARRIE looks and feels like a television movie through and through, with cheap CGI effects and television actors who are unable to really carry the weight of the story to make it remotely memorable once it ends. 1976's CARRIE set such a high standard that any remake that comes out afterwards will always be under a magnifying glass.
As much as I enjoy a twitchy Angela Bettis and a evilly subdued Patricia Clarkson [who are both pretty good in their roles here as Carrie and Margaret White respectively], they're not just Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie for me. There are some roles that really can't be filled by multiple actors. Spacek and Laurie are Carrie and Margaret for me, no matter who plays those roles in other versions of the story. I also must give credit to Emilie de Ravin as Chris, and Rena Sofer as Rita Desjardins. I thought they were very good as well. Still, the performances in the original version are so damn good, it makes these performances seem amateur in comparison.
As for the direction, David Carson is pretty bland through it all. There's no real style to the film at all. Watching the prom sequence in this remake makes it too hard not to compare it to the visionary sequence De Palma set forth in his version. His direction and editing made the prom scene immortal to many. This remake just apes what happened in the original film, but in a majorly inferior manner. Sure, computer effects have gotten better since the 1976 version. But it wasn't about the carnage of the prom. It was about how it was presented that made it powerful. There's no power in this version. And the ending is just ridiculously bad. Since I already mentioned that this film was supposed to lead into an actual series, there shouldn't be a surprise that Carrie actually survives this remake, thanks to Sue Snell. If I wanted to see a troubled person travel to different towns to provide insight to different situations, I'd watch The Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby. Just my opinion.
THE FINAL HOWL
CARRIE (2002) is a pretty lame remake to a classic piece of horror cinema. It's like watching the original film - just in a less stylish, not as strongly acted, and in not as well told way. Sure, parts of the novel that were omitted from the De Palma version make their return here. But they honestly don't add much to what already was a damn great adaptation of a mediocre first book by a master novelist. It's not the worst remake out there and has its moments for sure. But besides a few strong performances and some interesting interpretations of classic characters, there's no real reason to hunt down this remake unless you're curious to see why CARRIE didn't take off and lead to a planned television series. This is one prom I don't plan on going to again anytime soon.
Donald P. Borchers
David Anders - Burt Stanton
Kandyse McClure - Vicky Stanton
Daniel Newman - Malachi
Preston Bailey - Issac
Alexa Nikolas - Ruth
Genre - Horror/Killer Kids
Running Time - 92 Minutes
In 1975, married couple Vicky (Kandyse McClure) and Vietnam vet Burt (David Anders) are arguing as they drive through quiet Nebraska. As they bicker, Burt hits a young boy [who ran out of the nearest cornfields] with his car. As they blame each other for the accident, they both realize that the boy was already dead as his throat was slit prior to the accident. Arguing over their next move, the couple decide to place the body in the car trunk and drive into the nearest town, Gatlin.
As Burt and Vicky look for help, they realize that they stepped into a ghost town. The phones have been destroyed. Hay and cobwebs have taken over the local stores and homes. There's no one around. But when Burt goes to the local church and starts figuring out what's going on, a group of children pop out of nowhere to attack Vicky in her car. Burt runs out to find Vicky gone, realizing that the children of this town slaughtered their parents and are using religion to justify their actions. In particular, the children are worshiping someone called He Who Walks Behind the Rows, who needs human sacrifices to make the corn crop grow.
I have three words for CHILDREN OF THE CORN:
WHAT THE FUCK!?
Nothing that made the original film appealing to so many exists here. The characters aren't likeable. The narrative doesn't really go anywhere until the last half hour of the film. He Who Walks Behind the Rows doesn't even make any sort of appearance. Like 2002's CARRIE, 2009's CHILDREN OF THE CORN follows the short story that Stephen King wrote pretty much to a tee. And while I criticized the original film for being too light hearted for a dark story, this SyFy remake takes a dark story and makes it truly one of the dullest experiences of my life. When your main characters argue for two straight acts about random crap, you won't have any hair left to pull. Burt and Vicky here are TERRIBLE people who deserved to die sooner than they did. Yes, the couple hate each other in the short story. But the story could be read within 15 minutes. That's intolerable for two hours!
The children are no better. Issac is just a little prick who recites stuff as if he's reading from a cue card. Malachi is a bit better, but not threatening enough like the original character. And Ruth barely makes an impression until the final moments of the film. I didn't care about the story or the characters at all.
The only decent thing about the remake was the direction by Donald P. Borchers. The film looks nice, and some scenes are shot really well. I think the car accident is quite a shock. Plus there are moments where Burt is inside of the cornfield, giving him 'Nam flashbacks as he escapes the children. I thought these scenes were pretty inspired and quite stylish. The problem is that most viewers won't see any of this since they'll turn the film off the moment they hear the main characters bicker for minutes at a time. It's a shame.
The acting is eh here. David Anders is okay as Burt, but nothing about him is likeable due to his character. Kandyse McClure is just bitchy as Vicky. Her peformance is so one-note, which is a shame. David Newman is pretty okay as Malachai, although he doesn't really give much of the menace that Courtney Gains added to the character in the original. And Preston Bailey was terrible as Issac. None of his dialogue delivery was convincing in any way. In fact, a lot of the child actors pretty pretty terrible. What a waste of corn.
I'll never bad mouth the 1984 take of CHILDREN OF THE CORN ever again after watching the 2009 remake. While I'm not the biggest fan of the original, it still has more talent, charm, heart, and amusement than all 92 minutes of the remake. I honestly couldn't wait until this film was over. Besides some decent direction, there's nothing really to see here. No humans are worth sacrificing for this piece of shit.
Steven R. Monroe
Sarah Butler - Jennifer Hills
Andrew Howard - Sheriff Storch
Jeff Branson - Johnny
Chad Linberg - Matthew
Daniel Franzese - Stanley
Rodney Eastman - Andy
Tracey Walter - Earl
Genre - Horror/Thriller/Rape/Revenge/Exploitation
Running Time - 108 Minutes
A city author named Jennifer Hills (Sarah Butler) rents a cabin in the country so she can work on her new novel for the next two months. Due to her looks and the fact that she's a stranger, she attracts the unwanted attention of some redneck locals who work at a local gas station after she embarrasses their leader, Johnny (Jeff Branson). They begin spying on her, to the point of videotaping her every move, until one night where they decide to break into the cabin to torment her. Jennifer escapes into the woods, running into Sheriff Storch (Andrew Howard), explaining her situation.
Taking Jennifer back to the cabin, Storch begins investigating, finding empty bottles of wine and smoked joints. Thinking she just did this for attention, Storch calls for backup - who just happens to be the local rednecks who tormented her. Realizing that Storch is part of the group, Jennifer tries to fight back. Unfortunately, she is brutalized and raped by each of the men. Now broken, Jennifer walks away and falls into the river, where the rednecks believe she's gone for good since her body can't be located.
A month passes, and the group continues to live their lives - although they're still paranoid about the event with Jennifer. Soon enough, Jennifer reappears to mess with each rapist individually as her sick way to get revenge on what was done to her.
Meir Zarchi's I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE from 1978 is still one of the most unpleasant films I had ever sat through. It's not a film that wanted to be judged for its technicality or its storytelling. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a Grindhouse era shockfest that's meant to unease people with a 20+ minute rape scene and gory revenge sequences that's not for the faint of heart. It's no wonder the original was placed on the British Video Nasty list upon its release. I respect it as an experience, even if I don't necessarily agree that I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is supposed to inspire female empowerment.
I'm still surprised that someone had the balls to remake I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE back in 2010. I remember hearing about the reboot, thinking why would anyone want to recreate such an upsetting experience for a modern audience. It wasn't part of a popular franchise. It wasn't a film that needed retelling. I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE was released during a time where the whole rape-revenge deal has been done to death. In 1978, the film probably outraged a lot of people. In 2010, we've seen worse things on the news and in other films of its kind. It's pretty strange why this film, in particular, became an idea for a remake.
That being said, 2010's I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is a much better remake than I was expecting. It follows the original's narrative fairly closely, give or take a few changes, and still manages to be somewhat unsettling to watch. Funny enough, this remake is actually tamer than the original. The rape sequence is much shorter [thank God], and we barely see any nudity unless the film calls for it. And sure, the violence is more intense and elaborate [apparently Jennifer was a fan of the SAW films prior to her trip to this cabin], but it was the acts of rape that really bothered a lot of viewers.
I do think the revenge portion of the film is much improved from the original. There are really nasty scenes here, like a barrel of a loaded gun shoved up a dude's rectum, an acid bath, hooks to eyelids, and some genital mutilation. I liked that we don't see Jennifer plotting her revenge, or biding her time. She's gone for an entire month and we have no idea what was going on with her. There's a level of mystery here that the original doesn't have. Yes, it's probably implausible that Jennifer could even come up with these elaborate traps. But at least the time frame is reasonable and we don't actually see her plotting and creating these traps to reinforce that implausibility.
I do have to admit that this remake is utterly pointless, as there's no reason for it to exist. The original at least had some sort of purpose going for it that was meant to showcase a perverse level of female empowerment. This remake's purpose is too capitalize on the remake and "torture porn" trends. I find the original more effective and powerful due to this.
I think the original is more effective is because the acting in that film is not as good as the film here. The only exception is Camille Keaton over Sarah Butler as Jennifer. Butler is good, but Keaton just had this presence that captivates you during her torment and during her revenge. I was more convinced by Keaton that she would eventually do the things she does over Butler. The male counterparts, however, are much better actors here. Jeff Branson, a soap opera actor, definitely has a domineering and dark presence throughout the film. Andrew Howard, who plays a new character Sheriff Storch, is also very convincing as a scumbag police official who takes advantage of a helpless victim, even though he has a wife and young daughter who respects him at home. Howard plays Storch as this proud family man with a secret that he's haunted with. I really liked him here. And Rodney Eastman, Chad Lindberg, and Daniel Franzese do well with their respective parts as well. My thing is that since they were so good in their roles, it didn't feel as raw as the original.
Same goes with Steven R. Monroe's direction. It's extremely polished and doesn't capture the grittyness or dirtyness of the situation like it does in the 1978 version. Still, Monroe is less focused on the acts of rape and more on the psychological torment the characters go through during and after the sexual assault. The pacing is perfect, with some stylized visualization and some nice tension during the revenge portion. The videotape moments feel voyeuristic, creating a semi-uncomfortable feeling. This film is just bleak from beginning to end. And while the original is a better film due to its intended experience, this remake is definitely better made as a whole.
THE FINAL HOWL
I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE is an unnecessary remake, but at least it's a well made one. I didn't have the same uncomfortable experience watching this like I did with the original. But at least the acting is good, the direction is solid and polished, and the narrative still works, even if the remake as a whole feels tamer and less effective as the 1978 original. If you can handle rape-revenge films, give this remake a watch even if the original film is "much better".