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CARRIE (2013): The Other Director’s Cut That Deserves a Release (on Netflix!)

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Before #ReleaseTheSnyderCut, there was #WhatHappenedToCarrie. Many don’t know the story of the now nearly forgotten 2013 adaptation of Stephen King’s debut novel, but this version of Carrie directed by Kimberly Peirce (Boys Don’t Cry) and written by then-unknown Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Chilling Adventures of SabrinaRiverdale) fell victim to serious cuts in the editing room and some reshoots that stripped the movie down of its original proposal – over 40 minutes worth of material were dropped and remain unseen to everyone but test screening audiences. The film originally set out to be a direct, more faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s novel instead of a remake of the 1976 classic directed by Brian De Palma, and when the first teaser came out in October 2012, it sold precisely two essential aspects of King’s book that were not featured in De Palma’s version: the destruction of the town of Chamberlain, teasing Carrie’s rampaging climax through the city, and the “White Commission” – after-the-fact testimonies by survivors of the incident, highlighted by the voice overs used in the teaser:

Originally, the film had a non-linear structure; much like the novel, the story was told in flashbacks, going back-and-forth between the events on Chamberlain and witness recounting their experiences during the White Commission. It was also set to culminate in a climax where, after the Prom massacre, Carrie would go on a rampage destroying the town until she finally reached her home. These two major plot points were hardly the only aspects of the film that were removed or altered – we’ll get into the rest later -, but this first trailer ran with them as the main selling points to drive one clear message home: this wasn’t a rehash of Brian De Palma’s film.

When this teaser came out, Carrie was scheduled for a March 2013 release date, but it then got pushed back to October 2013 – a whole year after the teaser’s debut – because additional photography/reshoots were to take place. At the time, the reason given for such reshoots was that they were to make the film “darker”. Alas, once October came, what audiences and critics saw was a beat-by-beat retelling of the 1976 film, partially rewritten by Lawrence D. Cohen (the writer from De Palma’s version), and those two things highlighted in the first trailer that were to be part of the core of this new iteration – the town destruction and the White Commission – were all but gone. Like so, Carrie was met with mixed reviews, with all of the negative ones pointing to the fact that it was just a reenactment of a beloved movie with nothing new to bring to the table. Right then and there the phrase that was once a tagline for the film became the main driving question of many fans: What happened to Carrie? A fan movement was born, with a petition launched to demand the release of an extended cut, and many fans took it upon themselves to dig up everything that was cut and changed in the film, using such information on fan-made trailers and TV spots to promote the petition.

One of many set pictures of the town destruction climax

So what did happen to Carrie? The question has had conflicting answers. While Aguirre-Sacasa has publicly said that “the director” wanted to go for a version that was closer to De Palma’s, Kimberly Peirce herself has encouraged fans to “ask those in power” when asked about potential alternate versions, and she did acknowledge the petition for an extended cut of Carrie on her Facebook account – the blog Talk Stephen King made a very complete post gathering information about what was cut from the film and reactions/comments on the final version by crew and cast members, so I suggest checking that out. Descriptions of the extensive amount of footage that was either removed or altered from the movie can also be found here, the vast majority of them confirmed by set pictures, cast/crew members reports, or leaked material. With the limited amount of information that there is on this matter today, it’s hard to say who exactly is to blame for the butchering of Carrie, after all these comments date back to when the film was released – remember how David Ayer would swear that the theatrical cut of Suicide Squad was his cut when the movie came out? He’s singing a different tune now -, but fact the matter is that at some point in post-production the film strayed away from its original vision, and fans deserved – still deserve – to see it reinstated.

Set picture of the filming of a scene where Carrie burns a church

The aforementioned petition for the release of the original cut was launched on the – now dead – website Petition Buzz, and it reached over 20.000 signatures before the website went down in 2016 and the campaign was sadly lost. From then on the movement lost momentum, and while a new petition was started afterwards at Change.org, hardly any signatures were gathered as the excitement from fans was crippled at that point. However we do live in a post-Zack Snyder’s Justice League society now… One where we’re now talking about restoring the director’s cuts of Suicide Squad and even Sucker Punch, so the question is… Should the flame for Carrie‘s original cut be rekindled? Could there be hope for this 8 year old movie to get its much deserved second chance? I’d argue that yes it should and yes there is, as the scenario of entertainment today makes it much easier and justifiable for a new version of the film to be released – the successful campaign for Zack Snyder’s Justice League taught us many things, one of which is that streaming is a key player on this game.

Much has changed since Carrie came out in 2013. Back then, streaming wasn’t such a huge part of the entertainment industry as it is now, and the main focus of the “What Happened to Carrie” campaign was for the film’s original cut to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD – something that would be considerably costly since it would require the manufacturing and distribution of new physical editions of the movie for home release, and therefore MGM and Sony would need some serious convincing that such an endeavor was worth it. Enter the Snyder Cut. Here we have a movie whose release was an infinitely more challenging – as a matter of fact near-impossible – task for WarnerMedia than releasing the original Carrie cut ever was for Sony, and both Deborah and Zack Snyder have said multiple times leading up to its launch that it never would’ve happened without HBO Max. Hell, even Amazon exclusively released a director’s cut of 21 year old picture But I’m a Cheerleader on PVOD this year. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Carrie could find a home for its original cut on streaming platforms – and among the signs, comes a call…

Carrie isn’t currently streaming in any platforms that I could find – from what I could dig up, the movie is only available to rent or buy on Prime Video or iTunes and Google Play, and here’s an interesting piece of news that came out right as I started working on this article: Sony – who seemingly won’t be launching a streaming service of its own – just signed a billion dollar deal with Netflix to make it the exclusive streaming home of its new releases for the foreseeable future. Starting next year, all movies under Sony’s film banners – including Screen Gems, which distributed Carrie – will stream exclusively on Netflix. Now, when we talk about this pact we’re obviously setting eyes on new releases such as upcoming VenomInto the Spider-Verse sequels, etc, but this move does put the foot on Netflix’s door for previous Sony films such as Carrie. Netflix isn’t a stranger to releasing exclusive alternate versions of films – in 2019, they released an extended, four-episode miniseries version of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight -, and if the fans ask for it as loud as they were asking up until 2016, it would be a highly viable option for Sony to put the original cut of Carrie on Netflix.

Chloë Grace Moretz on set with Skyler Wexler, who played young Carrie in a deleted scene

Is it a 8 year old movie? Sure, but the magic of streaming has been that it’s brought exposure and viewership to many older movies – hell, the James Gunn-penned live-action Scooby-Doo films were some of the most watched movies on Netflix in Brazil last year on top of new releases simply because they were put there, and just last week I saw Rambo: First Blood Part II on the top 10! -, and considering that Carrie hasn’t been so wildly accessible in the streaming zeitgeist of the last few years and the fact that people are very excited about director’s cuts nowadays – we also saw Coppola’s new, much more welcomed version of the third The Godfather last year and even Sylvester Stallone is working on a Rocky IV director’s cut -, an all-new version of Carrie is ripe to come out and generate some excitement among horror fans.

There has never been a better time for the #WhatHappenedToCarrie campaign to be resurrected. The time is now for Carrie and horror fans to start demanding the studios to #ReleaseTheCarrieCut, and/or to put #CarrieOnNetflix. We can start by signing the new, currently weakened petition here, and get that movement going again. I’ve also done my part and edited a new fan-made trailer for the cut, which you can watch below:

After Zack Snyder’s Justice League, every studio should be checking their drawers for potential superior cuts of known IPs to put on streaming. Well, Sony has one sitting right there. All they have to do is release it.

Pronouns are they/them. A genre enjoyer. Obsessed with all kinds of films from mainstream blockbusters to weird art house cinema. I will enjoy the hell out of a movie you probably hate.

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