Stephen King’s Carrie: You’ve Seen the Film, Now Read the Book

Photo by Andres Gomez on Unsplash

During the seasonal period more films are played on tv, a well-known post-watershed one was Carrie. It was only recently that I had finished the short story by Stephen King, and I was one of the few that had not seen the film, despite knowing the rough plot of it (who doesn’t?). Before reading the book, I did contemplate watching the film justifying it by the arguments that I would gain a more in-depth idea about the story and its characters. However, I decided not to as from previous book to film adaptations there is a large variance in their accuracy (Beautiful Creatures – I’m looking at you) as well as their portrayal of characters. 

The book was gifted to me by a friend who didn’t finish it because they disliked the writing style. I had no idea what they meant until I got three pages into it. Throughout the book, King creates extracts from scientific papers, a court case, an autobiography, and interviews from lifestyle magazines to intertwine with the third person narration. This style of writing is what made me grow to love the story. By creating these extracts King shows the framing of Carrie from multiple points of views, there were arguments for and against Carrie in the style of a scientific paper (“The White Commission”), which references other papers work about Carrie, as well as a court case. It was the lack of this multifaceted narration that made the film fall short, whilst we saw the story unfold from a third person viewpoint, we didn’t see the work that Sue Snell done in order to try and redeem herself; we were unable to see how it was actually Carrie’s upbringing that fed into the horror aspect as well as her treatment from others. 

As stated above, King perfectly portrays Carrie’s destruction and havoc that she reeks on the town in vengeance and fits in line with the film adaptation to the extent that she punishes those who have hurt her and those who stood by and watched. In the book this is achieved by the multiple extracts which each describe the destruction of the town in differing ways, some look from a scientific viewpoint whilst others look at it from a prosecutors’ point of view. In the book the whole town falls because they stood by and judged Carrie from afar; whether it be due to her mother’s behaviour or the inhumane bullying she received. When the titular character was doused in the pig’s blood it was the end of the road for the infrastructure of the town, little did they know what was going to happen afterwards. 
Overall, the film Carrie misses the key part of chaos presented from the book, King accurately represents Carrie’s rage against everyone not just those in her class through the last third of the book. Carrie’s actions cause destruction of the whole town and ultimately her downfall. Whilst you may have a strong understanding of the story from watching the film adaptation maybe treat yourself to read the horror of Stephen King’s story so you can see how Carriereally ended.

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