Nearly 36 years ago, Brian De Palma's adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel Carrie hit theaters. It not only terrorized audiences but also proved iconic in part because of Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie's powerful and frightening performances as the titular telekinetic teen and her maniacal mother, portrayals that earned each an Academy Award nod. With a legacy like this to live up to, remaking Carrie could easily be deemed destined to fail. But Boys Don't Cry director Kimberly Peirce has never shied away from a challenge. For Peirce, the key to making her Carrie distinct from De Palma's—which she admires—was to go back to the book for inspiration. So don't consider this a remake as much as a new interpretation of King's novel.
The differences in Peirce's approach were immediately clear with the premiere screening of the Carrie teaser at New York Comic Con yesterday. An aerial shot of a town at night, as somber voices speak of Carrie, travels over a building fully ablaze, clearly her high school on prom night. But the shot continues past the massive blaze, and down a street where there are patches of fires along the way, more and more carnage clutters the street until we see a small figure surrounded by flames. The shot pushes into her: Chloë Grace Moretz as Carrie. She's covered in blood and glares at us with gritted teeth as a young woman's voice, says softly, "She wasn't a monster, she was just a girl."
Moretz joined Peirce on the panel, along with Julianne Moore, who will play momma Margaret, and producer Kevin Misher. They confirm that like the trailer—and the book—the destruction Carrie unleashes will extend beyond the prom. And while each member of the panel repeated that the center of this film would be the twisted relationship between Carrie and Margaret White, there will also be blood. Lots and lots of blood.
First Moretz detailed how she's been coated in all kinds of blood over the course of the shoot, "wet blood, dry blood, fire blood," she counts off, adding, that after a few weeks of shooting "the blood became part of who you are," admitting she'd get back to her hotel with blood all over her, which likely alarmed some lobby lurkers. Later, Peirce detailed there was plenty of research and development into every aspect of the blood. Misher assured no pigs were harmed in the making of the movie, and Peirce recalled they tested blood dumping for 3 to 4 months, testing various consistencies ("thin, thick, not thin at all"), angles and trajectory, aiming, and amounts of blood from 3 to 5 gallons. She explained it was a careful balance, "How big is scary? How big is funny?" Asked how much fake blood was used in the making of Carrie, Peirce paused to do the math, "5 gallons per bucket, 50 tests…I'm going to go with 1,000 gallons of fake blood."
Besides all this talk of blood, the filmmakers and stars spoke again and again about Carrie and Margaret, and how the focus on them in the film will set this Carrie apart from De Palma's. "They really can exist as two separate, equal, really great things," Peirce insists, "The mother daughter relationship in our movie is profound. It's the heart of it."
Moore seems to have dug in deep for her portrayal of the overzealous and shame-ridden mother character, explaining, "For me the character of Margaret was rooted in isolation." She details that Margaret was once in a cult, then developed her own faith that phased out her former community, then "She thought when she was pregnant that the child was a cancer and delivered the baby alone…so her only community is Carrie…so when Carrie begins to move away from her" that is Margaret's breaking point. And that breaking point will be brutal for both mother and daughter, as Misher points out the film is intended for an R-rating, "So you could depict the work of the book accurately, you did not need to pull your punches."
When it came to questions from the audience, there was a predictable amount of fanboy adoration that led to some awkward moments. One audience member dressed as Kick-Ass asked Moretz for a private audience afterwards, and before she could respond, the crowd universally booed his creepy request. To her credit, the 15-year-old actress demurely declined after chastising us for not being nice. More shout-outs for her work as Hit-Girl, and pronounced anticipation for Kick-Ass 2 popped up, and one man took to the mic just to pronounce his love for Moore and Hannibal, 'cause why not?
The other recurring topic was bullying, namely, how the filmmakers tackled the issue in the light of recent movements to intervene with the rising tide of cruel—and sometimes deadly—abuse kids today are relentlessly hurling at each other. Peirce was reluctant to give away plot details, but offered that Carrie is contemporarily set, and she implied, cyber-bullying will play a part in Carrie's torment at the hands of her peers.
Despite the bleakness in the plot, Peirce repeatedly used the word "fun" to describe the film, and seems confident that it will appeal to broader audiences that her past efforts. With Moore and Moretz on board, Carrie got cautious optimism from many movie fans normally enraged by remakes, but when the first teaser hits the web, I wager even more fans will be won over. In the meantime, they did share something all of you can also enjoy: the phone number for the White residence. Moretz tells us that depending on when you call, you could get Carrie or Margaret on the line, and she assures us, "It's spooky!"
So, call Carrie: 207-404-2604. I did it, and I got goosebumps. No joke.
Carrie opens March 15th, 2013.