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R16: contains violence, horror, offensive language and sexual themes

Spoiler alert

This page outlines how the classification criteria were applied. We do our best to discuss the content while avoiding spoilers, but please avoid reading this information if you do not want to learn anything about the content of this movie.

Carrie poster

Date registered: 29/10/2013

About the film

Carrie is an American film and the third adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name.

Closely following the original narrative, it concerns a socially-isolated high school student Carrie White. Her fanatically religious mother Margaret torments her at home and a group of girls, led by Chris, viciously bully her at school. Carrie discovers she has telekinetic abilities which she hones after research and practice.

A still image from the film - Carrie, covered in blood, walks through the streets in her prom dress

Classification criteria: Horror and cruelty

The film deals predominantly with matters of horror. Techniques are used to create and build tension typical of the horror genre. Features and themes such as social isolation, telekinesis and religious fanaticism combine to create a hostile setting where the often cruel and eventually graphic violent events play out. The effect overall is plainly horrific.

A still image from the film - Carrie's teacher rescues her from the school bullies in the locker room

Classification criteria: Violence

The film deals with graphic violence and death (of concern to s 3(3)(a)(i)). Violence is used sparingly throughout most of the film, but the film climaxes with a violent act of revenge. The frenzied nature of the scene means fast-motion obscures a lot of the activity, but effort is made to plainly focus on the bloody gory results of the violence. Although limited in extent (due to its presentation in the film's final sequence), the violence is of such a manner and degree that it is of high impact overall.

A still image from the film - one of Carrie's adversaries burns to death

Classification criteria: Sex

Limited sexual references are made and one brief high impact sex scene is shown.

A still image from the film - Prom Queen Carrie and her Prom King Tommy are covered in pig's blood as a joke

Classification criteria: Highly offensive language

The publication contains some highly offensive language (of concern to s 3A of the Act). The language is used sparingly and well-contextualised within the narrative, being used by characters in reaction to frustrating circumstances. That said, young persons may still normalise and emulate such use of highly offensive language to their social detriment.

A still image from the film - Carrie's mother restrains her as Carrie screams

Classification criteria: Self-harm

A character in the film regularly engages in self-destructive behaviour (of concern to s 3B of the Act). Close-up shots are used to heighten the intensity of these scenes, inducing a squeamish response in the viewer. The depictions of self-harm are likely to be somewhat shocking and disturbing for younger audiences. They are somewhat imitable and this is only limited by the disassociation the audience may experience with the character.

A still image from the film - Carrie in her prom dress, practicing telekinesis

Decision summary

The Classification Act requires publications be restricted if they are likely to cause harm to the public. Children and younger teenagers are likely to be harmed if this publication is made available to them. Restriction of a publication's availability will limit the right to freedom of expression, but this is allowed under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, where it is reasonable and demonstrably justifiable.

Young persons are likely to find the graphic violence depicted towards the end of the film shocking and disturbing. It also has the potential to inure these audiences to graphic media violence and thus have a harmful impact on their socialisation. Issues such as sexuality, puberty and bullying are tackled within the context of horrific circumstances and purposefully for their potential to derive entertainment.

Given the relevance of these issues to adolescents, this indecorous treatment may inappropriately influence these audiences' opinions and attitudes towards the subject matter in unhealthy ways. Further, they may find such material unsettling and disturbing given they themselves are most likely engaging in, and coming to terms with, these behaviours in a real world context.

Given the above considerations, a classification of objectionable except if the availability of the publication is restricted to persons who have attained the age of 16 years is a reasonable and justified restriction on the right to freedom of expression.

Contact the Information Unit if you require further information on a classification decision.

R16 label
R16: contains violence, horror, offensive language and sexual themes