Sunday, June 6, 2010

Carrie (1978) - 4.5/5

"They're all going to laugh at you!"... that infamous line seems to always be joked at every high school prom to this day. That line, including the infamous pigs blood, have become staples in American pop culture and it seems like people reference them all the time, including people who have never seen Carrie. That just proves how popular the film Carrie was and how it's famous imagery has been ingrained into the American subconscious. Despite being made over 30 years ago people are still talking and referencing the film all the time and it seems the greatness of Carrie can transcend time.

The plot is the brain-child of famous horror author Stephen King and the plot is very simple. The title character is wonderfully played by Sissy Spacek and the film opens with Carrie having her period while taking a shower after gym class. All the girls tease and abuse her and she is sent home humiliated and is dealt with by her religiously fanatic mother. In the mean time her gym teacher, basically acting like a surrogate mother, punishes the rest of the girls. This in turn pisses off ultra-bitch character Chris who deviates a bloody plan with her boyfriend to get back at Carrie. Sue Snell (played by Steven Spielberg's ex-wife Amy Irving) starts to feel remorse for treating Carrie poorly and asks her boyfriend (William Katt) to take her to prom to which he reluctantly agrees. The rest of the film is cinematic horror history.

Looking back on the film today it's amazing to see all the big name stars that came out of this picture and they are all great. William Katt, P.J. Soles, Nancy Allan, and of course fuckin' John Travolta round out the cast. I grew up with Nancy Allan usually playing nice, goody-two-shoe characters so it's unique to see her play a bitch, and I mean a REAL bitch. The real stars of the picture are Piper Laurie as Carrie's mother and of course Sissy Spacek who earned an academy award nomination for her portrayal of Carrie. Piper Laurie is memorable as the psychotic mother but sometimes her performance can be a little over-the-top and be almost unintentionally fun at some moments. Oh and what can I say about Sissy Spacek as it just seems like she was born to play the shy, reclusive Carrie. She is both tragic and scary. Perfect performance and casting!

All the performances are all brought to life by the sure handed direction of one of my favorite directors Brian DePalma. DePalma does get some criticism for his style being too reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock. In my humble opinion all directors have to be inspired by a director before them and what better director to mimic than Hitchcock? DePalma's style shows through right at the beginning by making a simple sequence of moving through a locker room both beautiful and erotic. One of my favorite shots in the film has Carrie dancing with William Katt and DePalma uses an almost dizzying camera effect as the camera swirls around our couple. Very creative! I can't defend DePalma to the end as I do have a few complaints about some stylistic choices of his. My first complaint is that he was perhaps a little too heavy on using soft lenses which gives the film a white hue. The second is two really annoying camera tricks. While the boys are getting fitted for their tuxes and talking, DePalma decides to use a little fast forward effect making their voices go real high. If the dialogue wasn't interesting enough then cut it out, don't use some silly fast forward effect. My least favorite stylistic choice is when Carrie goes ape shit at the prom and DePalma decides to use an annoying split screen effect. Split screen is nice for scenes for two people talking on a phone and such but it sticks out like a sore thumb in a tense situation in a horror film. It completely takes the audience out of the film! Thankfully other stylistic choices in the film can make for the god awful split screen effect, especially how DePalma grandfully picks certain scenes to only have sound effects with no music or dialogue heard.

Despite some stylistic flaws Carrie comes out being a great horror film. Some beautiful directing mixed with a great cast and a wonderful performance by Sissy Spacek makes sure that Carrie will be forever remembered and no bad sequels or pointless remakes will make people forget the greatness of a little film called Carrie.

Written By Eric Reifschneider

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