Sue Snell

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Sue Snell
First appearance Carrie
Created by Stephen King
Portrayed by Amy Irving
Kandyse McClure
Gabriella Wilde
Information
Gender Female
Occupation Student
School counselor (film sequel only)

Susan D. "Sue" Snell is a fictional character created by Stephen King. She was in his first published novel, Carrie in 1973, and also appeared in the 1976 film, the 1988 musical, the 1999 film sequel, the 2002 television movie, and the 2013 film remake.

In every adaptation and portrayal of the character, she is a popular teenage girl dating Tommy Ross. After tormenting Carrie White in the locker room, Sue begins to feel remorse for her actions. She asks Tommy to do her a favor and take Carrie to the prom in an attempt to make Carrie feel accepted and to ease her own conscience. In this she has been described as the "godmother" in King's "dark modernization of Cinderella."[1] The disaster that takes place at the high school prom is set in place when Tommy accepts.

Novel[edit]

In the novel, King uses commentaries by Sue Snell as one of his innovative narrative techniques to tell Carrie's history.[2] Sue is a popular student at Ewen High School, who feels guilty after participating in a mean-spirited prank designed to humiliate Carrie. Her teacher, Rita Desjardin, says that Sue is not a bully by nature and therefore the shower incident is out of character. When the prank happened, Sue had been dating Tommy Ross for six months. While preparing for the prom, buying a gown and accepting Tommy’s invitation, Sue begins to plan for Carrie to go to the prom in her place.

Staying home on prom night, she begins to doubt her own motives: worry about her late period - she both fears and hopes she is pregnant - and the possibility of Tommy falling for Carrie. When the town whistle begins blowing, Sue looks out her window, sees the fire at the school and rushes to her mother’s car. Speeding towards the school, Sue is horrified when the school explodes. She slams on the brakes, and the car screeches to a stop, throwing her against the steering wheel. She gets out of the car, and is knocked down by the explosion of a gas station nearby. She later flags down a deputy sheriff, who interrogates her. The deputy later recalls Sue stating "They've hurt Carrie for the last time," indicating that she had no part in what happened.

Three hours later, Sue finds Carrie lying by a wrecked car driven by Billy Nolan and Chris Hargensen, near death from being stabbed by her mother. She and Carrie have a brief telepathic conversation in which she convinces Carrie she had no part in the prom prank. Carrie cries out for her mother and dies, every detail of her death witnessed by a horrified Sue, who later identifies Carrie's body for the official records. To Sue's relief, her menstrual period begins, though it is implied that Carrie caused her to miscarry, possibly in an act of kindness.

Sue is targeted by a blue-ribbon panel investigating the "Black Prom" as a partial instigator of the setup to humiliate Carrie at the prom. Sue accuses the commission of wanting a scapegoat. It is not known if she was ever criminally charged. In 1986, she authors a book, My Name Is Susan Snell, which records the events of the prom from her perspective, reminding readers that "we were kids" and apt to make mistaken choices even while trying to do right. It is, however, also implied that this event has broken Sue's heart to the core. She wants to earn enough money with this book to go to a place, where she can forget everything and embrace death in peace.

1976 film[edit]

In the original film adaptation by Brian De Palma, Sue is portrayed by Amy Irving.[3]

Sue helps lead Carrie's locker room humiliation; she even opens a counter where tampons are stored and starts the chant of "Plug it up! Plug it up!" However, feeling guilty about it, she eventually asks her boyfriend, Tommy Ross (William Katt), to take Carrie to the prom. Unlike the novel, Sue doesn’t seem to feel worried over the possibilities of Tommy falling in love with Carrie. She instead heads over to the school and sneaks into the prom to check on them, and is happy to see Carrie smiling and being elected prom queen. Sue then notices the cord running along the stage, leading up to the bucket of pig blood above Carrie. When Sue investigates the inside of the stage, she catches Chris briefly, but is forced out of the auditorium by Miss Collins (Betty Buckley) (who erroneously believes her to be interrupting the ceremony out of jealousy and does not listen to her protestations), seconds before the cord is pulled and Carrie is splattered with the blood. Before Sue can get back in, Carrie mentally closes all of the doors, locking Sue out while the chaos begins inside.

Following the death of all of her classmates, Sue is seen in her bedroom some time later after seeming to have had some sort of mental breakdown. She and her family are getting ready to leave on a vacation after being besieged by reporters. She is having a dream in which she lays flowers on the burnt down lot of Carrie’s house, only to have Carrie reach her bloody arm through the rubble to grab Sue. She wakes up from an apparent nightmare in hysterics. She is quickly comforted by her mother (Priscilla Pointer, who is also Irving's mother in real life).

Sequel[edit]

In the 1999 film The Rage: Carrie 2, set more than two decades years later, Snell (again portrayed by Irving) is the counselor at the new school. It is revealed that the events of the first film traumatized her to the point that she spent some time at a mental institution. However, after she recovered, she did some studies on telekinesis. She begins to notice a telekinetic spark in an awkward student named Rachel Lang, following the suicide of Rachel’s best friend Lisa. While talking to Rachel in her office, Sue stresses her out, causing Rachel to shatter Sue's globe, scaring the both of them before Sue realized that she was right; Rachel has the same powers as Carrie did.

Sue visits the mental institution housing Rachel's mother, Barbara. Knowing that telekinesis is a trait passed on through the father, she tries to find out the identity of Rachel's father. Barbara reveals that Rachel's father was Ralph White - Carrie's father.

Sue tries to first get Rachel to admit to her abilities before trying to help her in an attempt to prevent another meltdown, even bringing Rachel to the old, burnt down school that Carrie destroyed in the first film. However, this only stresses out Rachel further, even more so when Sue tells her that she is Carrie's half-sister.

Desperate to prevent a repeat of Carrie's experience, Sue sneaks Barbara out of the asylum. Sue rushes to an after-game party at Mark Bing’s mansion, but Rachel has already been humiliated and is in a rage. She closes off the mansion doors and launches a fire poker at a boy, unaware that Sue and Barbara are trying to get inside. The poker tears through the front door and through Sue's head, killing her.

One critic wrote that the audience had a "considerable amount invested" in Snell by this point in the film and although her sudden death was "certainly powerful in terms of shock effect", it "also makes the rest of the film seem incomplete."[4]

Musical[edit]

In 1988, the property was adapted for a musical. Sue was portrayed by Sally Ann Triplett in both the London and the Broadway productions. As in other adaptations, she is dating Tommy and does not attend the prom. Sue is shown as being much more sorrowful for Carrie than in the other versions. She has one solo song, "It Hurts to be Strong," which she sings when challenged by her friends as to why she is being kind to Carrie. The musical closes as the book does, with Sue comforting the dying Carrie.

In a reading in November 2009, Sue was played by Tony nominee Jennifer Damiano.

In the 2012 Off-Broadway revival at the Lucille Lortel Theater, Sue was played by Christy Altomare. In this adaption, Sue shows up for prom to see how Carrie is doing, only to get thrown out by Miss Gardner. This is possibly a reference to the 1976 film.

2002 television movie[edit]

In the television movie, Sue is portrayed by Canadian actress Kandyse McClure. She and her best friend, Helen Shyres, are both popular students at Ewen High School, and are members of the popular clique led by Chris Hargensen, however, neither Sue nor Helen appear to really like Chris at all. Like the novel and 1976 movie, Sue had participated in taunting Carrie when she had her first period in the locker room. After Ms. Desjarden forces the girls involved in the prank against Carrie to attend boot-camp style detention if they want to attend the prom, Chris tries to rally the girls, but Sue silences Chris.

Sue feels guilty about how she treated Carrie, especially after learning that Chris and her top henchwoman, Tina Blake, vandalized Carrie's locker and filled it with tampons. She asked her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the prom instead of her. Once Carrie accepts, Sue helps her get ready for the prom, something she didn’t do in any portrayal before. She assists Carrie with her make-up, helping her choose a good shade of lipstick.

Following the destruction at the prom and the death of Carrie's religious fanatic mother Margaret, Sue eventually finds Carrie, unconscious in a bathtub full of bloody water. Sue pulls her out and successfully revives her; Carrie telepathically links with Sue's mind and Sue sees Carrie's entire life (in the book, Carrie sees Sue's entire life, proving her innocence and a little later Carrie later shows her her entire life, too). Sue is interrogated by the police, and claims to have found Carrie dead and left her. In truth, she hid Carrie in the ruins of the school until things calmed down. The police initially suspect that Sue was somehow in on Chris and Billy's scheme to humiliate Carrie, but are convinced of her innocence when Jackie Talbot reveals Sue had no knowledge of it. Later, Sue drives Carrie to Florida to help her start a new life.

2013 film[edit]

Sue is played by Gabriella Wilde in the 2013 adaptation of Carrie.[5] Different from most adaptations but more in concordance to the novel, Sue is pregnant at the end of the film. When she enters the White house, Carrie is about to kill her, but upon realizing Sue's pregnancy, she spares her life and sends her out of the house. After the events of the Prom she is summoned to court to help uncover what role Carrie played. In the following voiceover she admits that Carrie caused the disaster, yet blames everyone else, including herself, for instigating it. After that she visits Carrie's vandalized grave and puts a white rose on it and leaves. Later the headstone cracks and a Carrie scream is heard.

Alternate ending (2013 Blu-ray)[edit]

Sue is seen in the hospital trying to get the baby out but feeling that she is screaming in terror. When the baby is about to get out instead a bloody hand comes out and grabs Sue. But her mother is comforting her knowing that it is only a dream. After that Carrie's bloody prom dress is seen before the ending of the movie.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Badley, Linda (1996). Writing Horror and the Body: The Fiction of Stephen King, Clive Barker, and Anne Rice. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-313-29716-9. 
  2. ^ Magistrate, Tony (2003). Hollywood's Stephen King. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. pp. 23–45. ISBN 9780312293215. 
  3. ^ 'Carrie,' the 1976 Film Cast: Where Are They Now?
  4. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (2011). Horror Films of the 1990s. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 638. ISBN 9780786440122. 
  5. ^ "Julianne Moore And Gabriella Wilde Board Carrie Remake". Daily Mail. 2012-05-14. 

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