7 Days of May: Day 2 - Carrie
Our special event continues with a look at the made-for-TV remake of Carrie.
By M.T. Bates
The year 2002 brought us a made-for-television remake of Carrie that was honestly unneeded, as are most remakes of good films, but when you have a character like Carrie and an actress like Angela Bettis, you could say this film was inevitable. The part was made for her and, because of that, I will refrain from comparing this film to the original.
The first thing you notice about Angela in this role is her eyes. A shy intensity is housed behind these eyes, which is what you want in Carrie White. She is able to hone into some pretty intense emotions while portraying this character, all of which allow her to tap into her powers very early on in the film. They do not waste any time before displaying what kind of character Carrie is.
Playing such an emotionally-diverse yet mentally-stunted character has to be extremely taxing. Not the sort of character any actress can handle and for good reason. Angela releases it all and really shows us what she is made of in this film, even if it wasn’t seen by many people, which is a shame. For a made-for-television movie, it is very well cast all around and the acting is mostly impressive. The film plays out like a typical 2000’s teen film, with very cliché high school tropes, but in this case, you need those tropes in place for the build-up and endgame.
The biggest overall problem I saw in this film is the lack of adult awareness regarding Carrie’s emotional state and issues. It’s a silly area to nitpick but it derails the film from time to time. If you ignore that aspect of the film, the chemistry among all the characters is more seamless than one would think. In all of Carrie's scenes, her eyes tell the story. As her emotions grow, her eyes continue to shift in a way I don’t see very often in films.
The build up to the prom gives us an evolution of Carrie. She becomes a bit more self-aware and even begins standing up to her overprotective and overbearing mother, who is her ultimate foil, but also her biggest shield. The scenes with them together are the best in the movie, as the tension build-up is as heavy as it comes. Carrie’s mother is able to pull every emotion out of her daughter almost effortlessly.
Carrie’s desperate plea to want to be normal is tragic and relatable. Anyone who was “different” in high school can understand. It’s an exhausting and tiring ordeal for any youth to go through and it is the kind of story that was relatable when this book was first written, and it will still be relatable in 100 years. Being different can make you a target.
When prom night arrives, Carrie’s emotions are at their peak. Nervousness and excitement are a volatile cocktail swelling up inside of her. At this point, Angela is truly embodying the spirit of Carrie White. Her voice in this particular role is nearly on par with her eyes in the story they tell. They mesh together in a very harmonious way throughout the film that you almost forget the latent powers tucked away inside her. Her mousy shyness is adorable on another level throughout the prom. They manage to make you forget how the night ends until you are shown the bucket. The scene is overall very well filmed and does a wonderful job of building up tension, even though we all know how it ends.
Anyone who watched this remake no doubt watched it for the prom scene, one of the most iconic scenes in horror history. The build-up to the rope pull is one of the best you’ll see in any movie. Carrie’s transition in this scene is marvelous and satisfying. Stealing a scene acting-wise when you aren’t speaking, moving, or even blinking is almost unheard of, but Angela manages just that. Sadly, this scene does suffer as it has some extremely crude CGI, which really breaks the intensity stride the scene had going for it. It sadly mars an otherwise intense scene and what has been a very good movie up to this point, all things considered. However, the still-remaining constant is Carrie, an unwavering performance throughout it all.
This remake is far from perfect, but it does a lot of things very well. Angela Bettis played a role she was born to play and acted her ass off. Budget constraints and being made for television did not hold her back in the least. This film won’t overthrow the original, but Angela’s performance might bring you back around for a repeated viewing or two.
7 Days of May: Day 1 - May
Our 7 Days of May special event kicks off with the film that launched the career of Angela Bettis, May.