Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Carrie; horror drama, USA, 1976; D: Brian De Palma, S: Sissy Spacek, Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, Piper Laurie, William Katt, John Travolta, Betty Buckley, P.J. Soles, Priscilla Pointer
Teenage girl Carrie White looses a point at a volleyball game during a PE session and immediately everyone groans at her. During shower, she gets her first menstruation and in panic thinks the blood is a sickness, upon which all girls from her class once again decide to mock her, but the gym teacher, Miss Collins, takes her side and sends her home. Generally, Carrie lives a very shy and lonely life while her mother is a religious fanatic. That same day Carrie discovers her telekinetic powers that grow during critical situations. A girl talks Tommy into a prank: he invites Carrie to the prom night and she agrees. For the first time, she buys a dress and uses make up. At the dance, the girls throw pig's blood on her, which triggers her powers: everyone dies. Carrie goes home and takes a bath, but kills her mother in self-defence because she attacked her thinking she is a witch. The house then breaks in and disappears. The only surviving girl has nightmares about Carrie.
Quality made fantasy melodrama with surprisingly little ties with horror, "Carrie" is the first movie adaptation of a Stephen King novels. Melancholic mood, a sixth sense for understanding the mentality of teenage outsiders and calm direction are the stand out virtues: it is interesting that the shy teenage girl from the title is actually a very honest and kind person, and it is smashing how her telekinetic powers show up simultaneously with her adolescence, together with her maturity, up to the escalating finale, which ends up as a symbol for growing up. The opening with Carrie experiencing her first menstruation under shower is still one of the most unbelievable, daring and surreal scenes that ever graced the screen, but except for her powers getting used for revenge in the finale - filmed with split screen - there is pretty much but no suspense what so ever in the film, thus it is maybe wrong to pin it down as a horror movie. Brian De Palma creates a very absorbing visual style, but one can resent him for two mistakes: Carrie's humiliation at the prom night is shown in a too blatant way since the characters all seem like caricatures; except for the opening and the finale, the middle part is overstretched and seems rather aimless. "Carrie" could have worked better as an emotional, psychological film about a teenage girl outgrowing the influence of her mother, a religious fundamentalist. Or as a teenage girl who leaves this world, but is then rejected by the others at the prom, and thus returns to her mother's house, since she is neither here nor there. Unfortunately, it went on for too long, ending with a pointless horror finale in the house, and a further useless "jump scare" after it, which has no purpose. Still, actress Sissy Spacek, who was nominated for an Oscar, did her job perfectly and probably gave the character even more layers than De Palma intended.