Thursday, December 30, 2010

Carrie (1976)

Stephen King's classic tale of teenage revenge is brilliantly brought to life in Brian De Palma's CARRIE! The poorly misunderstood Carrie White is tormented by her fellow classmates and scorned by an abusive mother, but her years of ridicule are now manifesting themselves into a powerful psychic force that she will use to avenge herself.

De Palma opens with a soft, sensual shower scene that is highlighted by Pino Donaggio's magnificent score. The mood immediately shifts to pure psychological horror as Carrie is assaulted by the other girls after her first period causes her to panic in the locker room. These feelings of repressed anger and sadness will continue to build throughout the picture. Sissy Spacek's Oscar-nominated performance as Carrie is crucial to the film's success. Her shy and apprehensive take on the character is played to a flawless perfection, while her fiery inner anguish is unleashed like a phoenix in the climactic ending.

CARRIE is lined by more fantastic performances from each of its supporting cast members, with Nancy Allen, P.J. Soles, and John Travolta delivering menacing roles as the high school bullies. It is Amy Irving and William Katt that become the most interesting of the teens as Sue and Tommy thanks to the growing ambiguity that is written into their characters. Tommy's charming smile can be read any number of ways, but always seems to allude to a vicious deception that never surfaces. It isn't until Sue's ironic ejection from the prom by Miss Collins that their true intentions are finally revealed.

Piper Laurie's exaggerated portrayal of the crazed Mrs. White is taken to a state of super-villainy, with her religious zeal serving as a constant source of satire. De Palma uses countless visual clues to accentuate Mrs. White's domineering persona. She is typically shot from low angles in full-frame, giving her an imposing presence on-screen. This is opposed to the high angles that Carrie is filmed from, which depict her as a cowering child that is forced into the corner of the screen. Little notes, like the weathered "For Sale" sign next door or Mrs. Snell's general unease, also work against Laurie's character.

De Palma uses many of his favorite techniques to create CARRIE's unique look, most notably in his use of split-screen and dual lenses to bring the foreground and background into focus simultaneously. In what may be De Palma's defining cinematic moment, the camera follows as the prom ballots are collected and swapped, tracing each of the co-conspirators before it ends up overlooking the prom from atop the fateful bucket of blood.

CARRIE is Brian De Palma's greatest achievement within the genre, and one of Horror's finest films. It epitomizes the teen revenge thriller, both with its incredible cast and superb direction.

Rating: 10/10.

If you liked CARRIE, check out:
FIRESTARTER, AUDREY ROSE, DONNIE DARKO.

18 comments:

  1. True story: I saw a sneak peek of this movie back when it first opened, yes I am that old. Anyway, my friend had an asthma attack at the end of the film due, she claimed, to the hand coming out of the ground. Be that as it may, I ended up with her at the ER after this film...

    ReplyDelete
  2. i hate this movie, this is that one as a kid... i was not suppose to see... though i did, and it made me freak... thank god for dirty pillows.
    i think i said that right?
    happy 2011,
    jeremy

    ReplyDelete
  3. God help her if she went to see JAWS with you Pax lol.. That is awesome though sad! Jer, what kid couldn't appreciate all of the nakedness in CARRIE growing up, enough dirty pillows to go around!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I Think a perfect score is a little high, but it really is a fantastic movie.

    Will you or have you reviewed Carrie 2? I love that movie in a completely non ironic way. haha

    ReplyDelete
  5. I so love Piper Laurie this is of course the movie where she really shines! This is not Stephen King's best work but the concept he created and the way it was brought to life by De Palma make it one of the most unforgettable movies ever.

    ReplyDelete
  6. TS - I think you already found the review this morning =D

    TheGirl, Laurie is so deliciously over the top here, and I fully agree that De Palma made CARRIE his own.

    ReplyDelete
  7. CARRIE shouldn't have worked - the novel was written by one of the most unoriginal writers of the 20th century, and the film was directed by one of the most unoriginal filmmakers of the 20th century, yet it hangs together very well. It has a greater resonance in the US; at my school girls were more likely to have abortions rather than tearful periods in the showers. We didn't have a prom either, thats a terrible American high school custom which has slowly crept over to the UK in the last 10 years or so.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have not seen all of De Palma's movies, but I have seen enough to say that this may be the one with the least amount of visible influence that I could see from Hitch, although naming the city Bates is blatant as they come. I thoroughly enjoy SISTERS, but CARRIE has to be my favorite of his.

    ReplyDelete
  9. And now I'm completely interested in English shower abortions! The mystery, the intrigue! =D

    ReplyDelete
  10. this is my favorite horror movie ever. Loved sissi spacek's performance in that film as well as piper laurie's and john ntravolta's.

    those fuckers deserved to get killed after what they have done to carrie.

    still, great film nonetheless and my favorite horror film yet.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have always really liked it, but each time I see it I like it even more, since the deep rooted psychological effect never withers with repeat viewings.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Could not agree more. A classic.

    Cheers!

    ReplyDelete
  13. One of my all time favorites. This film haunted me as a child, especially the "last scare" ending that Friday the 13th (1980) ripped off. My cousin is still scared by that Jesus statue with the glowing eyes.

    I actually presented the prom scene for my editing class last semester, talking about all the visual and audio cues DePalma put into it. How the blood represents her finally becoming the woman she's meant to be, to how the fire represents her rebirth from shy girl to aggressive predator. Such a masterful, psychological film and definitely one of the best Stephen King film adaptations. Way better than the novel as well, by the way.

    Great review!

    ReplyDelete
  14. That's awesome Fred, I did a similar presentation with AMERICAN WEREWOLF, but of course the professor graded me down since he didnt consider Horror a credible art form.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your professor was a douche. Carrie would have taken care of his ass for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  16. @Fred [The Wolf]:

    "How prejudiced you are. You dare wish for a girl who I feel sorry for to kill a teacher? You're just as bad as Carrie's enemies."

    @Carl Manes:

    "Shame on you too. You're just biased as you as Fred. So what if people hate horror. It's their right to do that. Are you going get revenge on them just because they do? If so, you'll get in big trouble.

    Would you like it someone terrorized you for hating something they like? If you don't want that to happen to you, then leave horror haters alone.

    Also, you think that Margaret White's villainy is satire? Pathetic! There's nothing funny about her. And I hate satire, except for certain ones."

    @both Carl and Fred:

    "I wouldn't mind if Carrie took you out. In other words, I wouldn't mind if she stamped out your lives. Your major intolerance not only makes me sick. It also makes you no better than the people who you're against."

    ReplyDelete
  17. Insightful. And almost coherent! Welcome to the site.

    ReplyDelete