I don’t often get revved up for Halloween, but this year I decided I would read the creepiest book on my bookshelf in honour of the occasion. The only problem is that my “creepy” books are more dystopian than supernatural, and my paranormal books are mostly romances. To fulfil this random fancy, I had to go out and buy a creepy book; I think Carrie was a pretty good choice.
I didn’t realize when I picked up a copy of Carrie (1974) that this was Stephen King’s first novel. It certainly seems to be his shortest novel, clocking in at only 199 pages. Told through a collection of newspaper clippings, transcripts, book excerpts, and third-person narratives, Carrie is the story of a strange, bullied, high school girl (with a fanatically religious mother) who suffers one final indignity at her senior prom and unleashes her telekinetic power on the town in retribution. It’s either a large-scale revenge story, or a parable on the consequences of a lifetime of bullying.
I don’t really have anything profound to add to whatever must have been discussed about this book in the last 39 years. But what disturbed me most about it wasn’t Carrie’s power, or the 440 bodies left in the wake of her Prom night meltdown. It’s Carrie’s mother who really makes this story horrifying; possibly because her violent, fanatical brand of religious devotion isn’t beyond the scope of reality. I spent the whole book hoping for her painful and bloody demise.
I was super excited to see the new ‘Carrie’ (2013) film last weekend after hearing all the hype, but I have to say it was a bit of a let down. The movie was set in present day, so the online-bullying aspect was appropriate and made Carrie’s ultimate reaction all the more believable. But the bullies were a little campy, and when Carrie directs her telekinesis around, she starts doing this weird Vader Force choke hand motion that is easy to overlook at first, but just gets annoying after a while. From what I remember, you’re better off sticking with the original 1976 film if you want to see Carrie on screen.
[Featured Image tribute poster found on Flavorwire.]