A reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom.
Carrie White is a lonely and painfully shy teenage girl with telekinetic powers who is slowly pushed to the edge of insanity by frequent bullying from both classmates at her school, and her own religious, but abusive, mother.
Carrie White is a shy young girl who doesn't make friends easily. After her class mates taunt her about her horrified reaction to her totally unexpected first period one of them takes pity on her and gets Tommy Ross, her boyfriend and class hunk to invite Carrie to the senior prom. Meanwhile another girl who has been banned from the prom for her continued aggressive behaviour is not as forgiving and plans a trick to embarrass Carrie in front of the whole school. What she doesn't realise is that Carrie is ... gifted, and you really don't want to get her angry. Written by
Mark Thompson <email@example.com>
Bernard Herrmann, who had been nominated for an Oscar for the music to De Palma's previous film Obsession (1976), was slated to compose this score but passed away the December before the film was completed. Hermann's four note violin theme from Psycho (1960) is used over and over in this film. See more »
Norma has her hair styled at the salon in preparation for the prom. Immediately afterwards, she is back at the gym setting things up, with her hair in braids and wearing her baseball cap. See more »
"Carrie" is a melding of two great artists, in this case, Stephen King, who wrote the novel and Brian DePalma, who directed the film. This is a tense, exciting thriller that is also a sturdy character study. It's hard to make a film that can accomplish both, but DePalma does it.
King's novel mostly dealt with a telekinetic girl who is cruelly treated by her classmates. DePalma and screenwriter Lawrence Cohen follow the novel fairly closely, with the exception of the ending, which is a great deal more sensationalistic and better, in my opinion. (King himself liked the finale and the film, as stated in his exceptional study of the horror genre "Danse Macabre")
As is the case in most DePalma films, the technical credits are superb. The cinematography (by Mario Tosi)is extremely effective; colors and shadows have never been shot more effectively in a DePalma film since. The film score is by Pino Donaggio, and it marks the first collaboration between Donaggio and DePalma. (Bernard Herrmann died shortly after "Obsession" was completed) Donaggio is among the most underrated and overlooked composers of his time. His scores for "Dressed to Kill", "Blow Out" and "Body Double" are all exceptional and all deserved Oscars. "Carrie" is no less brilliant, as it accomplishes what all great scores are supposed to do: enhance the film without giving anything away. Paul Hirsch's editing is also extremely effective as it was in "Sisters", "Obsession", "Blow Out" and "Raising Cain".
But it is the performances that make "Carrie" stand out. Carrie is played by Sissy Spacek in a performance of such power and strength that she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress (the first actress ever to be nominated for a horror film; the second would be Sigourney Weaver for "Aliens")She manages to hit all the right notes. A lesser actress would have veered toward melodrama. Spacek plays the role more realistically and the film is much more effective that way. (Just in case you didn't know, Spacek was a DePalma regular, but off-screen; she was the art director for several of his early pictures). Also, "Carrie" marked the return of Piper Laurie to films after a too-long hiatus (her last credit was "The Hustler") Here, she plays Carrie's mother. Again, a lesser actress would have veered toward melodrama, but Laurie resists the temptation. Her performance is a real knockout and also garned an Oscar nomination (she should have won, but typical Academy genius set in and gave the prize to Beatrice Straight who was in "Network" for a whopping 10 minutes and really didn't do much.)Also, as a side note, this film also is a start for some future DePalma regulars such as John Travolta (his first major studio film) and Nancy Allen (her first major role)
What I really liked about "Carrie" is the absolutely perfect ending. I had commented before that "Sisters" had an absolutely perfect ending. The one thing about Brian DePalma is that he knows how to end a picture. "Dressed to Kill" had a really good one, although some people hated it as well as "Blow Out". "The Fury" has the greatest ending of all the DePalma thrillers.
A small note to finish: In 1999, "Carrie 2" was made by profiteers at MGM. Despite a rich premise, the film was an artistic failure. DePalma had nothing to worry about. The sequel (retread might be a better word) lacks everything that makes DePalma's original so good. Rent or buy the original, on tape (in pan-and-scan or widescreen)and DVD (widescreen)and forget the sequel, even if they give it away.
**** out of 4 stars
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