Carrie (1976 & 2013) is THE horror icon for me. I saw Brian DePalma's version (1976) back in middle school and immediately rechecked it all summer from the library (I guess they allowed multiple renewals back then?) and showed it to my friends one by one. I think they all thought I was as damaged as Carrie White herself for loving this movie so much at the age of 12. That is a little messed up, isn't it? I have seen the original movie probably more times than any other film. I made a Carrie-inspired Barbie back in high school using corn syrup. She was very sticky. All of this is leading up to the fact that I just want to let y'all know that I am very biased when comparing these two movies. I have seen the '70s version like 25 times at least and the new version I've seen only twice. Also, this comparison is for people that have seen both films mostly, because my comparisons are mostly about details within. That said, here's my comparison between these two films.
They both pass the Bechdel Test almost immediately. This film is about the antagonistic relationship women have to one another in our women-fearing culture. The casting and performances from both films are pretty great, but Spacek's Carrie wins for me. Chloe Grace Moretz is an intriguing actress, but she is too pretty to be Carrie and she just doesn't bring the menacing enough for me. I enjoy Julianne Moore's performance as Carrie's mother in the new version. It has a bit more nuance and you feel more sympathy for her. I don't like how controlling Carrie became to her mother in the new version, though I get it. The sympathy Sue still felt for Carrie at the end of the new version seems really unjustified after all the brutal murders Carrie just performed. I don't think Sue would have tried to help her at that point. She would have been too scared.
I enjoy the added scene of Margaret giving birth to Carrie alone, not knowing she was pregnant and almost killing baby Carrie right after she was born. I feel like that's exactly what happened. The newer film serves for me as a retcon for the old film. I will be able to watch the old film now inserting the details from the 2013 version that I liked in my mind, enhancing a movie I've loved for two decades now.
I have a bit of a problem with the casting of Tommy and Sue. They're so vanilla and boring-looking to me. I prefer the original definitely here. I prefer the aesthetics of the '70s much more than the aesthetics of 2013, so I missed the visuals in general from the first one while watching this one. It's a total bonus that we don't have to endure John Travolta in the new version, though. There are a few people of color (two even with names!) in the new version, though, so major points for that!
Ok, let's compare the bloodbaths at the end. The blood is more realistic in the new version, which is one of the only parts of this scene I prefer to the original. The biggest part that bothers me about the new version is Carrie's movements and expressions. In the old version, she is wide-eyed, robotic, and emotionlessly ruthless as she kills. She walks slowly with her arms rigid at her sides. The killing is coming entirely from her mind. No movement is necessary. I think that makes her scarier. In the new version...first of all, they do an instant-replay of the blood hitting Carrie. That is SUPER cheeseball, and I don't like it. Carrie in the new version used her hands a lot, which I could forgive if she held them tightly in a way that makes it feel like she's really causing the damage with them. I don't really believe Moretz's Carrie is a tortured soul, despite what I've seen her go through. She just looks too innocent or something here.
I think the new version trimmed a bit of the fat from the old one in this scene, however. The old version's scene at the prom after Carrie gets hit with the blood is longer than it needs to be. The editing in the new version during this scene is tighter. But, Carrie's ruthlessness once she leaves the prom in the newer version is a bit much. That slow-motion-Chris-going-through-the-windshield thing is where the film really loses me. I think the car-flip in the original is a much better way to show Chris' death. I do love a girl-villain walking away from fire she's caused, however, and both of these films have it. I think the main issue I have with the destruction Carrie causes in the new version is the fact that she's displaying emotion as she does it. She looks like she's cognizant of the terror she's causing and I felt that the wreckage caused by the original Carrie was more like a trance...a blackout of destruction she wakes up from when she goes home to her mother. Carrie in the new version awakes from this trance in the same tub-scene, but she never looked catatonic, so I don't believe it. I like the catatonia of the original Carrie much better. I can't enjoy the killing if she is aware she's doing it and is enjoying it. Not sure what that's about, but there it is. There are some great little moments in the new version's ending but I grew up on the old version, so nothing could ever eclipse it for me.
Most of my criticisms come down to performance. I actually think some aspects of Moretz's Carrie could have been added to Spacek's. Honestly, this remake is quite good and both movies are worth your time if you like female villains in horror. I'd say choose the old version if you like the aesthetics of the '70s and choose the new version if you're into more realistic blood and Julianne Moore and if you REALLY hate John Travolta, because he is at his most annoying in the original.
Carrie (1976) --
Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 4
Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3
Carrie (2013) --
Aesthetics/Visual Effects: 3.5
Treatment of Women/Minorities: 3.5