Kimberly Pierce’s Carrie (2013) reveals the tragic consequences of bullying: “unwanted, aggressive behavior … that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.”1 Mocked and made fun of by her classmates, Carrie White (Chloë Grace Moretz) is an emotionally damaged girl. The film serves as a warning: Victims of bullying can become angry, and uncontrolled anger can lead to acts of violence.
Children who are bullied are often different than their classmates. One reason Carrie is bullied is because of her mother’s religious beliefs. Chris Hargensen (Portia Doubleday) makes fun of Carrie because her mother Margaret White (Julianne Moore) believes that non-Christians are “going to hell.” Carrie is also bullied because of her plain clothes and inability to play sports. She tells her mother, “They think I’m weird.” Chris rationalizes her mistreatment of Carrie, telling her friends, “We didn’t do anything wrong.” Bullies are often in denial that they cause their victims any harm.
Carrie is emotionally damaged by bullying. After having her first menstrual period in the change room, she cries out repeatedly, “Please help me” while Chris and the other girls all laugh, throw tampons at her, and chant “plug it up.” This causes a supernatural power to be unleashed: Carrie shatters the lights in the ceiling, and, in later scenes, breaks a mirror and a water barrel. Carrie’s emotional pain and anger unlock the power of telekinesis.
The source of Carrie’s telekinesis could be demonic. When her telekinesis manifests, her mother calls her a witch. Although Margaret is mentally unstable, from a Biblical point of view she is correct. In the Bible, there are only two sources of supernatural power: God and the Devil. Carrie’s power is not natural—it is supernatural: “some force beyond … the laws of nature.”2 She can make physical objects (and people) levitate according to her own will, not by praying to God. This is the power of sorcery, a practice forbidden in the Bible.3 After discovering her supernatural abilities, she reads books on “magic powers.” Later, at the prom with Tommy Ross (Ansel Elgort), she makes a pledge “to the Devil.” Whatever the source of Carrie’s telekinesis, it is not of God. The night of the prom, she uses her supernatural power for evil. Carrie, soaked in pig’s blood, punishes the students for their sins against her.
Carrie’s covering in pig’s blood has spiritual significance. In the Old Testament, pigs were unclean to eat4 and a sacrificial offering of pig’s blood was an abomination.5 The Hittites, an enemy of ancient Israel6, used pigs in various rituals.7 If Carrie’s supernatural power is demonic, then her covering in pig’s blood is not a coincidence. What appears to be a prank is a pagan ritual, making her unclean and unholy.
After receiving a baptism in pig’s blood, Carrie appears to be demon-possessed. The change in her personality is directly linked to the use of her supernatural power. When she uses her telekinesis, her face is blank and soulless, and she kills (or causes injury) without regret or remorse. However, when she chooses to stop, her natural goodness returns. The stark personality change makes Carrie like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both good and evil.
A central theme in Carrie is that when a student (or a parent) bullies a child, they can turn them into a monster. Margaret loves her daughter, but she abuses her in a misguided attempt to discipline her. Chris and her friends bully Carrie because it amuses them; they have no love for her at all. Tragically, instead of following Christ’s teaching to “love your enemies”8, Carrie becomes a destroyer like the Devil.9
- “Bullying Definition,” accessed December 17, 2015, http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/definition/
- Oxford Dictionaries, s.v. “Supernatural,” accessed December 19, 2015, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/supernatural
- Galatians 5:20-21 (English Standard Version).
- Deuteronomy 14:8 (New International Version).
- Isaiah 66:3 (New International Version).
- Exodus 23:28 (New International Version).
- Koot van Wyk, “Pig Taboos in the Ancient near East,” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 4, no. 13 (November 2014): 121-127, http://www.ijhssnet.com/journals/Vol_4_No_13_November_2014/15.pdf
- Matthew 5:44 (King James Version).
- John 10:10 (New American Standard Version).