Stephen King’s first novel. Brian De Palma’s award-winning film. The story of “Carrie”, a troubled teenager tormented by her peers. After she has her first period, she develops telekinetic powers, although in the book she was perhaps born a “sensitive”, for as a child, stones from the sky fell on her house while she was in a traumatized state of emotion. Powers went latent until the onset of puberty. By the story’s end, she will use these powers to extract revenge on her peers in a most climatic way.
Carrie is one of my favorite horror movies, if not my most favorite. It is chilling, atmospheric, sad, and heartbreaking. It leaves a viewer with a sense of unease while allowing the same viewer to appreciate the film’s style. Did King have the same effect on me with his novel. Sadly no. There are several reasons for this.
In between the regular narrative there are reports and memoirs, written after the events of the story, by a paranormal committee and one of the survivors of the “Carrie” story. For me, these interludes only distract from the narrative. Also, King ends his story with Carrie running amok, not only burning down the school with her classmates trapped inside, but destroying half the town as well. In the film, Carrie only burns the school in a sort of fit of temporary insanity. One can sympathize with her situation. It is more difficult to sympathize with the Carrie of the book, who, I do believe, even sports a malicious grin during her rampage on the town.
King might have invented the story but screen writer Lawrence D Cohen and director Brian De Palma make it so much better with the film. And you know what? I do believe King agrees.