EXCLUSIVE: Director Kimberly Peirce Talks Carrie
Earlier this week, I was invited to a special press event where I got to chat with director Kimberly Peirce about her horror remake Carrie, which recently took home the People's Choice Award for Best Horror Movie, and is currently avaialable on Blu-ray and DVD. However, the interview wasn't the only thing on the agenda.
Even if you haven't seen this remake yet, you likely know that the "blood dump" is one of the most iconic moments from Brian De Palma's original Carrie, and the scene is just as memorable in the remake, which centers on a tormented high school girl (Chloe Moretz) who discovers her telekinetic abilities. To celebrate the Blu-ray and DVD release, Fox Home Entertainment invited me to get a bucket of blood dumped on me. How could I pass up such an offer? So, before you check out my exclusive interview with Kimberly Peirce, where we discuss the alternate ending and the logistics of this bloody scene on the set, take a look at my horrible acting skills as I try to pretend that I don't know what's coming next.
Before signing on to Carrie, Kimberly Peirce was best known for directing the critically acclaimed 1999 drama Boys Don't Cry, which earned Hilary Swank her first Oscar award. She followed that up with the 2008 military drama Stop Loss starring Ryan Phillippe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt before taking on this remake, based on the original novel by Stephen King. Take a look at what she had to say in our exclusive interview.
Kimberly Peirce: The alternate ending was actually the ending for awhile. For awhile, we didn't have a coda, then we did, and that was it. We had always known that Brian (De Palma) had done a great job with his coda, and I thought we had to do something that is at least a little bit shocking, a little bit scary, a little bit fun. It wasn't about "beating" Brian or necessarily equaling Brian. The truth was, maybe that's not possible. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't, but as an artist, I approach these things very humbly. I do my very best. So, if you go, Brian did a great job, that's over here, let's do the best that we can do," I think the elements we needed were shock, surprise, it had to be within the vernacular of the film and it had to be fun. I was really proud of that. I thought she performed it great, and when we screened it, a lot of people really liked it. What ended up happening was there was a fear that it might not work. Look, that's a legitimate fear. It always might not work. The problem with that to rule the decision-making is, whatever else you choose, also might not work. It may be less dangerous, but that doesn't mean it's going to work more. So, there was a decision to go with the theatrical ending, which I think everyone would say is softer, but I think we should have gone with the alternate ending. I think the alternate ending is fun and it's in the vernacular of what the movie is supposed to be.
Also, you know with the Blu-ray, the ending is not going to be lost.
Kimberly Peirce: Well, that was really nice for me. What we have a chance to do with the Blu-ray is show some of the things that got cut out that I thought maybe should have been in. It's interesting how we now have this post-theatrical life for movies. In many ways, that's our history and our archiving for movies, that you get to save all this stuff that you worked on.
There are some extended and deleted scenes on here as well. How important was it for you to get these on the Blu-ray?
Kimberly Peirce: It was important because in the deleted scenes, there's more of an emphasis on scares, sexuality and violence. Those are the three things that, when I got hired to do this movie, I thought that's what you need this movie to be: sexual, scary and violent. I think any moving away from that, took away from the whole, so I thought it was fun to put those on and say, 'Hey, these are areas where I tried to push that boundary as much as I could, given the situation I was in.'
Winning the People's Choice Award must have been very thrilling for you all.
Kimberly Peirce: It was really thrilling. We appreciate the support, and it was amazing that they voted for it. We're really lucky.
Since we're here for the "blood dump," could you talk about the logistics of that scene, and how you approached it, compared to the original?
Kimberly Peirce: Sure. I went in knowing that was a really iconic scene, essential to the book and any movie about this, but I didn't realize how difficult it was to do a blood dump. I thought, 'Oh, you have a bucket up there, and you hit somebody in the head, and it works.' My special effects guys starting coming in with their iPad's every day, and suddenly, the blood would be off to the left, or off to the right, or behind the actor or in front of the actor. Sometimes, it looked like just this pure goop, sometimes there was bubbles in it. So, we ended up finding out that we had to alter whether it was three, four or five gallons, three, four or five feet away from the top, if you had a butterfly opening, you could do that. If you did another kind of opening, it was a cascading pour. As we were moving towards that date when we were going to shoot, we were a little bit all over the place. We thought four gallons was better and five feet was really good, so we were locking things down, but when we would do another test, it could fluctuate. Then I got the news that we only have one shot at it. I was like, 'You've got to be kidding.' I said, 'Why?' They said because she (Chloe Moretz) is on a minor's hours. To people who don't know, you pick her up, she gets in hair and makeup, she shoots, you clean her up, you send her home, that's all part of your day, so you're racing to get that actor in front of the camera. They said we only have time for you to do it once, and when it wasn't working out, I was terrified. Of course, we had the stunt double, right before she came in, and they filled the rafters with journalists. I've never had this happen. The journalists thought it was great, but I could see it was flawed. They said to me, 'Don't tell Chloe it didn't work, because she's going to be coming to set and she's going to look to you to see how it went. I just had to look down, because I can't lie to her. I was a nervous wreck, I had all these journalists watching, and it was perfect. It was perfect twice. We had two different blood dumps, from three different angles. They did give me another one, and it's amazing. The first one is like an umbrella. People have asked me, 'Oh, that's totally digital, right?' After 80 tests, I was like, 'That is not digital. That is real.'
Kimberly Peirce: I'm so thrileld that we have Blu-ray and DVD, and they can see the theatrical ending and they can see the alternate ending. I'm curious to see what they think. I want to know which one they like. And I love that they can see the deleted scenes and listen to the commentary. A lot of people put a lot of hard work into this, and I'm thrilled.