books v film, Horror Writing

Books v Film: Carrie

Fight, fight, fight!

I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase “the book was better than the film,” it’s a common complaint and one that most people expect.

But as I’ve said before in my letters, books and films are very different mediums, a book has far longer than a film to capture the reader’s attention and can easily divulge far more detail than a film is able to. Although films can visually show an audience a lot more than a book can. One scene in a movie can take an author paragraphs or pages to create

As mentioned previously, this blog series isn’t about which is better, books or films as personally, I find it unfair to compare the two. They are too different for any comparison to be fair. Rather this series will look at the key differences (not all differences) in the story when it makes the transition from book to film and let you decide if you think those changes are for better or worse.

It should go without saying, but like before, I’ll say it anyway just for clarity sake. There will be spoilers abound, so if you’d rather not have the book or film spoiled then I recommend giving this a miss until you’ve seen or read it yourself.

Carrie in a Nutshell

Photo by Ashley Williams on

Carrie is a 16-year-old girl from Maine (this is a Stephen King story after all). Her widowed mother, Margaret, a fanatical Christian, and is pretty terrible as a human being, she’s vindictive and cruel. Carrie also is a victim at school, getting bullied and harassed regularly.

The opening scene is pretty iconic, Carrie being ridiculed and harassed by her classmates for not understanding her period. A teacher, Rita, at first is hard on Carrie but softens when she realises Carries ignorance. Carrie’s mother, however, is cruel and physically abuses Carrie for getting the ‘woman’s curse’(like we do it on purpose).

The girls who tormented Carrie are given detention, one of the girls doesn’t show thinking her treatment of Carrie was justified (ok, she’s psycho) and is banned from prom.

Carrie discovers she has telekinetic powers (neat) and practices using them in secret.

One of the girls who tormented Carrie feels bad and gets her boyfriend to ask Carrie to prom, which Carrie accepts. The psycho bully sees this as an opportunity for vengeance and promotes Carry and her date as prom king and queen. She gets her boyfriend (who is also a bit mental) to kill and bleed pigs (you all know what’s coming right?)

Photo by Sachith Ravishka Kodikara on

Carrie makes a dress that her mother hates, mother admits she knows Carrie has powers and calls her a witch.

Prom goes well to start with but when Carrie is crowned prom queen a fuckton (a scientific measurement I’m sure) of blood falls on her. This pushes Carrie over the edge and she goes for vengeance.

Using her powers she locks everyone in the school and leaves. On the way home, she unleashes a wave of telekinetic power through the town, smashing many things and ruining fire hydrants. she breaks the locks on the fuel pumps at a nearby service station and sends gasoline pouring into the street, where it is ignited by a discarded cigarette, resulting in a fiery explosion. She does this again at another gas station and again with a gas main, she pulls down power cables into crowds of people. She goes home and kills her mother but is mortally wounded doing so. She has one last attack at the bullies and dies crying for her mother.

Overall this is a very sad story or abuse, isolation, and bullying. Carrie is a victim but also a mass murderer, it is hard not to feel sorry for her though, at least a little bit.

Chris (psycho bully) is banned from Prom

Photo by Yan Krukov on

In both the book and film Chris, the psycho bully is banned from going to Prom, however, the reasoning changed. In the book she is banned because she won’t go to detention, she believes the way she treated Carrie in the shower room was the right thing to do (that’s why she’s psycho) and thinks her punishment is wrong. In the film (not the 2018 version) she has a temper tantrum and gets slapped by the teacher and then banned from going to Prom. A minor difference on the surface but one I think matters as the book portrays Chris as a psycho (let’s not forget her attempted mutilation of another classmate for fun), whereas in the film she’s more of a spoilt child.

The Ending

Lots of people die in both endings but there are key differences. In the book, after the blood falls everyone laughs at Carrie, one student trips her before she runs out. In the film after the blood covers her, she only imagines people laughing, no one really laughs save one person.

In the novel Carrie runs from the gym and falls but then returns and slams all the doors closed and turns on the sprinkler system, causing several people to be electrocuted. She then sets the gym on fire before heading out to continue her Ramage through the town. In the film, Carrie turns on the fire hose and it whips around, Miss Collins is killed by a falling rafter and a few people are electrocuted which causes the fire in the gym. The damage is limited to her school.

In the book Carrie confronts her mother who says Carrie was conceived via rape Carrie then fights and kills her mother, she is mortally wounded.  This happens similarly in the film, without the rape mention.

In the book and film, Carrie then kills Chris and her boyfriend by causing their car to crash/flip over.

New Film!

The most recent rendition of Carrie in the film medium has a few superficial changes, modernising it for today’s audience, including the use of social media to make Carries bullying even worse. There are also some differences with her powers, when they manifest and what they can do, in the book she can communicate telepathically but in the new film she cant, but she can fly. It’s kind of an odd change, I think done to show cool special effects. The main difference for me was again Chris’ character, in the new film, she isn’t the one who comes up with the pigs’ blood plan she takes part in killing the pig though which does show she’s not quite the full shilling. I must admit I preferred it when she was the distant mastermind rather than the ‘hands dirty’ psycho.

Those are the main differences I noticed, I am aware that there are a fair few more than I have mentioned here but these are, in my opinion, the key differences. Let me know what you think? Did you like the changes? Do you feel I’ve missed one of the critical changes?

I'd love to hear what you think, please comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s