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Carrie (2002 film)

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Promotional poster
Based onCarrie
by Stephen King
Screenplay byBryan Fuller
Directed byDavid Carson
Music byLaura Karpman
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producers
  • David Carson
  • Stephen Geaghan
Production locationsVancouver, British Columbia, Canada
CinematographyVictor Goss
EditorJeremy Presner
Running time132 minutes
Production companiesTrilogy Entertainment Group
MGM Television
Original networkNBC
Original releaseNovember 4, 2002 (2002-11-04)

Carrie is a 2002 American supernatural horror television film, based on the 1974 novel of the same name by Stephen King. It is the second film adaptation and a re-imagining of the novel, and the third film in the Carrie franchise. The film was written by Bryan Fuller, directed by David Carson, and stars Angela Bettis in the leading role. In the story, Carrie White, a shy girl who is harassed by her schoolmates, disappears and a series of flashbacks reveal what has happened to her.

Carrie was produced by Trilogy Entertainment Group and MGM Television at the request of television network NBC. Filmed in Vancouver, it was commissioned as a stand-alone feature by the network but the studios intended it as a backdoor pilot for a potential television series. The ending of the novel was changed accordingly, but no follow-up series was ever produced.

The film premiered on NBC on November 4, 2002, when it was viewed by 12.21 million people. Despite the good ratings and two award nominations (a Saturn Award and ASC Award), the film was poorly received by film critics. The performances, especially Bettis', were praised, but the film was criticized for its poor special effects, lack of a horror atmosphere, and long runtime.


Police interview several people, including high school student Sue Snell and gym teacher Miss Desjarden. Detective John Mulcahey is currently investigating the disappearance of a high school student and suspect of arson, Carrie White. These interviews reveal the preceding events.

One week before the prom at Ewen High School, Carrie is a shy girl who is bullied by the popular girls, most notably Chris Hargensen and Tina Blake. When Carrie has her first period in the shower, the girls taunt her until Ms. Desjarden intervenes and comforts Carrie. Principal Morton decides to send Carrie home but addresses her by the wrong name. An infuriated Carrie yells out, causing Morton's desk to move several inches. Making her way home, Carrie is accosted by a boy on a bicycle, whose joke goes wrong when he inexplicably flies off his bike and crashes into a tree. On arrival at her house, Carrie has a flashback of her childhood. Her fanatically religious mother, Margaret White, who considers menstruation a sign of sexual sin, locks Carrie in her "prayer closet" as punishment.

The next day, Ms. Desjarden gives the girls a week's detention for their bullying of Carrie. If any of them plans on skipping detention, they will be suspended and therefore banned from the prom. Chris is the only one who refuses to do so, so she is banned from prom. After Chris' father, John Hargensen, a lawyer, unsuccessfully attempts to rescind the ban, she enlists her boyfriend, Billy Nolan, to get revenge on Carrie. Meanwhile, Carrie discovers she has telekinesis, the ability to move objects with her mind. After a telekinetic episode in class, Carrie goes home and practices her talent. Sue, who feels sorry for tormenting Carrie, hires her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the prom. With some trepidation, Carrie agrees. When she tells her mother about the prom invitation, Margaret forbids her to go. At last, Carrie is provoked into using her powers to confront her mother and Margaret seemingly gives in.

On the day of the prom, Tina switches the prom ballots so that Carrie and Tommy are elected the Prom King and Queen. As Tommy and Carrie take their place onstage, Chris, who has been hiding in the rafters with Billy, pulls a rope, causing a wave of pig blood to fall onto Carrie. Chris releases the rope and the bucket falls on Tommy's head, killing him. Carrie goes into a shock-induced trance and locks everyone inside the gym, killing them all, except for a few students who escape through a vent with Ms. Desjarden. Carrie then leaves the burning school to walk home, unleashing a wave of destruction throughout the town. When Chris and Billy see Carrie walking, Billy tries to run her down but Carrie tosses their truck into a pole, killing them.

When Carrie arrives home, she gets into a bathtub, where she finally snaps back to herself but cannot remember what has just happened. Margaret comes into the bathroom to deem her daughter a witch for destroying the town and then attempts to drown her in the tub. With her last ounce of strength, Carrie stops her mother's heart. Sue finds Carrie and manages to revive her by administering two breaths. At Sue's suggestion, Carrie fakes her own death and Sue sneaks her out of town to Florida. As the two drive off, Carrie has a nightmarish vision of her mother. When she wakes up, she hallucinates Chris lunging at her. Noticing this, Sue asks her if she wants to stop for a moment, but Carrie tells her to keep driving.



Bryan Fuller (left) wrote the screenplay for the 2002 Carrie adaptation, based on the 1976 film by Brian De Palma (right).

In May 2002, television network NBC commissioned a film adaptation of Stephen King's novel Carrie.[3][4] Filming started the following month in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada,[5] on June 12,[3] and took at least twenty days.[a] King had no involvement in this version after another film adaptation, The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999), disappointed him.[7] It was produced by MGM Television and Trilogy Entertainment Group based on a screenplay by Bryan Fuller.[3]

The network originally wanted a "movie-of-the-week", but the studio wanted to capitalize on the production so it was planned as a backdoor pilot for a potential television series.[4] Although the producers tried to be faithful to King's novel,[8] in order to allow for a continuation of the story, the ending was changed so that Carrie remained alive.[7] Fuller had earlier considered the idea of giving Carrie's abilities to Sue or the creation of "another Carrie", but he deemed killing a character "who is victimized her entire life" as "really cruel".[7] Another adaptation was developed with the intention of creating a sub-plot for the series, featuring Jasmine Guy as a paranormal investigator, but was ultimately scrapped.[4]

Envisaged as a remake of Brian De Palma's 1976 film, Fuller aimed to "give it [...] a little more of an epic feel" rather than the fairy tale-feeling Fuller ascribed to the original.[7] He also thought his version could add "a little more depth" with "some scope to the characters and the situation", which was not present in the original.[7] The writer said Bettis' portrayal of the role was meant to give Carrie a "more edgy" characterization instead of the "victim" feeling he believed Sissy Spacek gave to her in De Palma's film.[7] In his words:

[Carrie] is not a murderer, and, especially the way Angela portrays her, she is a sympathetic, sweet soul who is a bit more edgy than Sissy Spacek's Carrie. Sissy portrayed her as—I don't want to say pathetic, but just really as a victim. Angela give[s] the character such a strong core, and we felt that we couldn't turn this character who was so sweet into a murderer and then kill her. We wanted to give her another chance. We wanted to see her blossom and triumph over this instead of losing again.[7]

Fuller sought to update the film's 1970s setting to a contemporary one, aware that high-school violence, in particular, has changed since then.[7] Because Fuller felt the Columbine High School massacre was still on people's recent memory, he was careful in addressing the film's "teenage vigilante" theme.[9]


Carrie was first broadcast in the United States on NBC at 8 pm EST on November 4, 2002.[5][8] According to Nielsen Media Research, the film was viewed by an estimated 12.21 million people.[10] It had a 5.0/12 household rating among males aged 18–49, making it the third most-watched show for this demographic. Among women aged 18–34, it was the most-watched program with a 6.3/16 rating. Carrie also obtained the best 18–49 score for a single-part made-for-TV show since ABC's broadcast of Brian's Song in December 2001.[10]

The film was later released in VHS and DVD formats by MGM Home Entertainment on August 12, 2003.[2][11] Scream Factory released it in Blu-ray format as double feature along with The Rage: Carrie 2 on April 14, 2015;[12][13] a Region A disc, it featured English-only subtitles and contained a new audio commentary with director David Carson and cinematographer Victor Goss.[12][13]


The film was poorly received by film critics; it currently has an approval of 20% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 10 reviews, with an average rating of 4.92 out of 10. The site's critics consensus reads: "This made-for-TV adaptation of Stephen King's classic fails to impress or bring anything new to the table, - or to the prom - paling even more in comparison to the 1970's memorable version".[14]

Several critics questioned the necessity of a new Carrie, considering a remake of the original classic to be unneeded.[b] People's Tom Gliatto summarized it as a "pointless remake".[17] Some reviewers considered it to be excessively derivative of De Palma's film,[c] and others assessed it unfavorably in comparison to the 1976 film.[d] Steve Johnson from the Chicago Tribune disagreed, arguing that the flashback structure, "make[s] it more than just a rehash of the first film".[16] It also elicited praise from Ron Wertheimer, who wrote for The New York Times that the flashbacks and the new ending were creative ideas.[8] John Levesque of Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Anthony Arrigo of Dread Central, however, felt the former alteration was not an improvement, calling the conclusion "so undramatic" and "undeniably weak", respectively.[18][19]

While the film was generally poorly received by critics, Angela Bettis' performance was highly lauded.

While Johnson considered the film "a respectable piece of work" owing to an intelligent script that developed all of King's themes,[16] Wertheimer classified it negatively within "the generic made-for-television standard".[8] Ian Jane of DVD Talk opined Carrie was "decent enough" for the limitations of a TV film,[12] and Arrigo said "the lack of cinematic quality" reflected the television standards of the 2000s.[18] Although Wertheimer claimed that the film's drawbacks were not simply caused by the medium, he did make the criticism that the prom scenes were sapped by the commercial breaks: the filmmakers, he argued, should have opted for a shorter sequence.[8] SF Gate's Edward Guthmann also criticized the film's overall length, especially in regard to the prom scene, as he considered the "dramatic impact" was not enhanced.[1] Phil Gallo of Variety likewise felt some scenes were extended just to fit the time needed for the next break.[5] Randy Miller III of DVD Talk said the home media release evidenced "gaps in the action" caused by the commercials.[2]

The film's special effects were heavily criticized.[e] Fuller himself called the effects "cheap".[4] Levesque and Gallo found their usage to be excessive,[19] and the former said the film suddenly "shifts into a special effects bonanza".[5] Another common complaint was that the film was not scary,[1][15] which lead Levesque to write that "the new 'Carrie' doesn't even fit the category [of scary-movie genre]".[19] Gallo found that it deviated from horror in favor of "prurient side routes", mentioning Sofer's acting, as well as locker-room and post-coital scenes.[5] Johnson made a similar remark on the sexual content.[16]

Most of the praise the film received was directed towards its cast,[f] although Wertheimer and Arrigo were critical about the acting.[8][18] While Clarkson, McClure, and Keith were praised by more than one reviewer,[g] Bettis' performance was especially praised.[h] Linda Stasi of the New York Post was one of the those who thought a remake was unnecessary, so she had low expectations for the film. Stasi, however, concluded she had been "completely mistaken"; she was positively surprised by the acting and went so far as to state that Bettis should win an Emmy for her performance.[15] Wertheimer remarked that Bettis expressed the character's emotions well, and lamented that the film "affords Ms. Bettis few opportunities for such genuine acting".[8]

At the 29th Saturn Awards, Carrie was nominated for Best Single Television Presentation, but the winner was Taken.[21][22] It was also nominated for the 2003 American Society of Cinematographers Awards in the "Movie of the Week or Pilot (Network)" category; CSI: Miami's "Cross Jurisdictions" won it.[23]


The production of the television series was subordinated to the film's audience ratings.[7] Although it obtained "strong numbers", according to Variety,[10] the series was never produced.[4] Fuller and Bettis were expected to reprise their roles, and the writer had a concept in mind: he hoped to create a series in which Carrie had to deal with the remorse and the responsibility for killing several people.[7] The series would also feature Carrie and Sue on a journey to help other people with telekinetic powers.[24] Fuller wrote the outline for a second episode, but NBC had no interest on it, so MGM ended their deal.[4] In Fuller's opinion, "the network [n]ever intended to do a series, they were just playing the studio".[4]

Another remake based on the Carrie novel and the 1976 film was released in 2013. Directed by Kimberly Peirce and starring Chloë Grace Moretz, it was created after producers felt the 2002 version did not capture modern bullying.[25] However, David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter has described the 2002 film as a faithful adaptation of the novel.[26]


  1. ^ No source informs when the filming was concluded or how much time it took. However, by July 2, 2002, Variety reported it was still underway.[6]
  2. ^ Examples:
    • Stasi: "I could never figure out why anyone would bother to remake a great movie"[15]
    • Guthmann: "There's no good reason why 'Carrie' ... needed to be remade"[1]
    • Johnson: "There is, first of all, no reason ... to remake 'Carrie' "[16]
  3. ^ Examples:
    • Guthmann: "'Carrie' often feels directly lifted from the DePalma film"[1]
    • Hanley: "the scripts ... are too slow and derivative of the original novel and film to really make an impact";[13]
    • Arrigo: "there are still many aspects to this production that simply rehash what De Palma did before".[18]
  4. ^ Guthmann labeled it as a "sorry impostor",[1] while Gliatto affirmed it "can't hold a Roman candle to Brian DePalma's 1976 film".[17]
  5. ^ Gallo considered them to be "a fizzle";[5] Wertheimer called them "passable",[8] and Jane declared, "some of the effects work is just plain bad to the point where it can be unintentionally funny".[12] Arrigo said about a specific scene that "the effect is not dissimilar to something an app on my smart phone can produce".[18]
  6. ^ Examples:
    • Stasi: "Everything works – starting with the cast"[15]
    • Hanley: "Each film has their high points, with Carrie (2002) sporting a solid cast"[13]
    • Jane: "Where this version succeeds ... is ... in its performances"[12]
  7. ^ Hanley considered "strong performances" were delivered by Keith, Clarkson and Bettis.[13] Stasi praised the "well-cast" Clarkson, while declared, "Even David Keith as the detective investigating the horror is perfect in the role".[15] Gallo considered Sue was "played smartly" McClure,[5] while Levesque said "McClure creates a Sue far more mysterious than Amy Irving's original".[19] Jane wrote, "Rena Sofer is decent as Miss Desjarden and Kandyse McClure plays the 'queen bitch' of the high school [sic] really well but it's Patricia Clarkson and Angela Bettis who do most of the heavy lifting here".[12]
  8. ^ Examples:
    • Gallo: "Angela Bettis does an admirable job as Carrie"[5]
    • Wertheimer: "Better than passable is the performance of tonight's Carrie, Angela Bettis ... Ms. Bettis manages to breathe some life into Mr. King's allegorical character"[8]
    • Stasi: "Bettis ... does such a bang up job that if she doesn't win an Emmy for this role, she should spontaneously combust"[15]
    • Hanley: "Angela Bettis is incredibly spectacular"[13]
    • Johnson: "Bettis ... makes a very convincing Carrie White"[16]
    • The Telegraph's Anne Billson retrospectively called it an "unremarkable save for a terrific central performance by Angela Bettis".[20]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Guthmann, Edward (November 2, 2002). "'Carried' away / Scariest thing about TV remake of DePalma classic is its length". SFGate. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Miller III, Randy (September 22, 2003). "Carrie (TV Film)". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on February 1, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Grego, Melissa (May 22, 2002). "Bettis has 'Carrie' in mind". Variety. Archived from the original on February 2, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Taylor, Robert (October 26, 2006). "Reflections: Talking with Bryan Fuller". Comic Book Resources. Valnet Inc. Archived from the original on January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h Gallo, Phil (November 3, 2002). "Carrie". Variety. Archived from the original on January 31, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  6. ^ Feiwell, Jill (July 2, 2002). "Emilie de Ravin". Variety. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Spelling, Ian (2002). "Carrie On". Fangoria. Archived from the original on November 16, 2004.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i Wertheimer, Ron (November 4, 2002). "It's Not Nice to Make Fun of Carrie, Remember?". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  9. ^ Friedlander, Whitney (January 23, 2015). "'Hannibal' Creator Talks 'Star Trek' and Balancing Projects". Variety. Archived from the original on January 31, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Kissell, Rick (November 5, 2002). "ABC scores demo win". Variety. Archived from the original on January 9, 2018. Retrieved January 8, 2018.
  11. ^ Zad, Martie (August 10, 2003). "'Little House on the Prairie' Returns". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on February 1, 2018. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Jane, Ian (April 7, 2015). "Carrie / The Rage: Carrie 2 (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d e f Hanley, Ken W. (April 14, 2015). ""Carrie" (2002) / "The Rage: Carrie 2" (Blu-ray Review)". Fangoria. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018.
  14. ^ "Carrie (2002)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved May 14, 2020.
  15. ^ a b c d e f Stasi, Linda (November 4, 2002). "Slash and 'Carrie': 3 ½ stars for remake of killer classic". New York Post. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  16. ^ a b c d e Johnson, Steve (November 4, 2002). "Carrie' remake faithful to original". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  17. ^ a b Gliatto, Tom (November 4, 2002). "Picks and Pans Review: Carrie". People. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  18. ^ a b c d e Arrigo, Anthony (April 15, 2015). "Carrie / The Rage: Carrie 2 (Blu-ray)". Dread Central. Archived from the original on July 3, 2017. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  19. ^ a b c d Levesque, John (October 31, 2002). "New 'Carrie' offers nothing to fear but the lack of fear itself". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Archived from the original on January 10, 2018. Retrieved January 9, 2018.
  20. ^ Billson, Anne (October 24, 2013). "Carrie: how does the remake compare with the original?". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on March 14, 2017. Retrieved February 16, 2018.
  21. ^ "The 29th Annual Saturn Awards nominations". Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Archived from the original on April 11, 2003.
  22. ^ "A Look at the 29th Annual Saturn Awards" (PDF). The Saturn Rings. Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films. Winter 2004. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 2, 2012.
  23. ^ "The ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography". American Society of Cinematographers. Archived from the original on March 7, 2010.
  24. ^ Squires, John (July 21, 2015). "8 Horror Movie TV Series Adaptations That Didn't Quite Work Out". Dread Central. Archived from the original on January 11, 2018. Retrieved January 11, 2018.
  25. ^ Russo, Tom (October 12, 2013). "Why remake 'Carrie'?". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on February 24, 2014. Retrieved February 15, 2018.
  26. ^ Rooney, David (October 17, 2013). "Carrie: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on January 29, 2018. Retrieved February 15, 2018.

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