A very early effort from Bryan Fuller, the 2002 version of “Carrie” was a backdoor pilot intended to begin a television series centred around Carrie, the horror icon from Stephen King’s original novel and Brian De Palma’s excellent 1976 adaptation.
This version of “Carrie” is much, much more faithful to the book than the 1976 film. That is a very bad thing. De Palma’s streamlining of the book was one of his film’s greatest strengths, his excising of the books indulgent amount of asides and cutaways a great move as it focused the film upon the book’s strength – the characters. Fuller retains the asides and cutaways, expanding some, and tinkering with them so as to make the story work as the beginning in an intended series, instead of a story that works just fine on its own.
This version of “Carrie” also strips away all the style and cinematic edge of De Palma’s version, replacing it with that dingy, dismal style too common in the early days of digital. This isn’t used in the neat way that Lynch’s “Inland Empire” did, using the wonky and low-grade nature of early digital cameras for unsettling effect. Instead it seems to just be a product of the TV movie’s limitations. I’m also confused why there are so many digital effects used – surely the creators knew they didn’t look great, even for the time. So why add an extended sequence at the start involving a digital effects setpiece?
The cast ranges from flat to abysmal, though it’s neat to see a few future collaborators of Fuller’s (Chelan Simmons, who’d go on to play Gretchen Speck on “Wonderfalls” and “Hannibal”, and Katharine Isabella, who’d play Margot Verger in “Hannibal”). No one transcends the dullness of what is the worst of the three “Carrie” adaptations (although the 2013 version comes close). I give it one glazed doughnut, and a rock from the sky.