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The Multiple personality disorder has been subject of stories ever since Stevenson's famous novel "The strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". Here, in "Raising Cain", director Brian De Palma shows everything he learned from studying Hitchcock and gives us a good story of suspense that although flawed, it is very enjoyable and gives the chance to shine to the underrated actor John Lithgow.

Lithgow stars as Dr. Carter Nix, a brilliant psychologist that is spending a year at home in order to care for his little daughter. Jenny(Lolita Davidovich), his wife, is concerned that he is becoming obsessed with it, and her problems increases when she finds Jack Dante(Steven Bauer), an old lover who is interested in continue their affair. Little she knows that not only she'll have to face his husband Carter, but also his other personality, the evil Cain.

Many reviews have complained that there is never a mystery that Carter and Cain are the same person. Well, that is because it is never intended to be a mystery. This is a suspense movie. As Alfred Hitchcock used to say(and no doubt that De Palma knows it), suspense is in the fact that the audience knows more than the characters. We know that Cain can appear at any time, and how the characters react to him is what keeps us thrilled.

John Lithgow truly shines as the troubled Carter/Cain, in a role that brings back memories of his superb performance in "The Twilight Zone". Sadly for the movie, the rest of the actors give awful performances, Davidovich and Bauer have zero chemistry on screen, and almost no charm, so since their characters do not have redeeming qualities, one ends up wanting them to be killed by Cain.

One big exception is Frances Sternhagen, who in her little screen time steals the show. Watch her in an amazing sequence as her character, a retired psychologist, explains the mental disorder to the detectives. That sequence is typical De Palma's perfection and Sternhagen makes the most of it.

The script is for the most part OK, and so is the directing. Not De Palma's best, but certainly satisfying; his obsession with Hitchcock's suspense is notorious, but still he manages to give the movie his own style and while this do not save completely the movie, will be appreciated by those who enjoyed "Dressed to Kill" or "Sisters".

To summarize, it is a better than average movie with superb performances by John Lithgow and Frances Sternhagen. Don't watch it with high expectations and you'll be satisfied.

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Sisters meets Scream meets Lost Highway meets god knows what
David Sticher1 March 2001
Raising Cain is an awesomely baffling set of pomo hijinks care of the man De Palma. I can't blame the hordes of people who hate this movie for its nastiness and incoherency, but those are the reasons I love it so much. It's a total parody/homage/celebration of the kind of razor-inspired fun De Palma spent much of his career perfecting, with the fun (and intentionally self-destructive) gimmick of presenting the movie more or less from Carter's point of view.

With this, the movie trades conventional thrills, chills, and spills for a sneakier sort of fun. Instead of putting together the sort of hallucinatory bloodbath De Palma specialized in, he takes it apart. It's like he took all of his box-office successes, threw them in a blender, and kneaded the mixture into an extended nightmare sequence of half-remembered horrors, unreliable visual intake, and malformed cliches.

If you try to take it as a straight thriller, it'll never work. It's a thriller plot turned into a horror flick, where instead of being the brave wife protecting people from her deranged husband, we're the deranged husband, not sure where we are or who we are, doing terrible things we don't quite understand, in a dreamworld constructed entirely of cliches and stock terrors.

Scream would take the parody aspect into firmer territory and Lost Highway would take the insane protagonist aspect into firmer territory as well, and both of those films worked very well, but Raising Cain gets the ultimate thumbs-up from me for being constructed much like my own nightmares and for genuinely surprising me from time to time, not to mention for creating a feeling of urgency and sympathy for Carter.

If you're into really oddball flicks, give Raising Cain a chance.
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A Great Psychological Thriller. A must for de Palma fans.
This has a seemingly convoluted plot. Carter (et al., played exceptionally well by John Lithgow) begins to grow strange when he learns that his wife is having an affair with her ex. He becomes more obsessed with their young daughter and a rash of kidnapping/ killings occur. His wife (Lolita Davidovich) must figure out if he is behind the crimes or if his "dead" father, who committed experiments on children to develop multiple personality disorders, is to blame. Whew…

What makes this film interesting, other than the above-stated reasons, is that they give away one of the twists at the very first scene. The audience is already aware that Carter has multiple personalities. What makes it more intriguing is that de Palma tricks the audience with constant flashbacks, dream sequences, and appearances made by "dead" people that are not really dead.

The film starts a tad slow during the first 15 minutes and seems Lifetime Channel worthy. But as the film progresses, it gets trippier and more Hitchcockian (paranoid, obsessive, and voyeuristic with a knock out ending). Oddly enough, this is rated "R", but for very little reason. There is no nudity, minimal sex, minimal violence, and no gore at all. Most of the violence is implied and the tension comes from the suspense built by de Palma, the disturbing subject matter, and dark atmosphere.

There are a few standout scenes that will creep the viewer out. My favorite was the hospital scene. It literally had me sinking into my couch as this thing slowly turns towards me. It scared the bejesus out of me and had me rewinding to catch a glimpse again. Other noteworthy scenes include the interrogation scene where Lithgow weaves in and out of his different personalities and the ending that is incredibly reminiscent of "Dressed to Kill".

Favorite Quote: "Hickory dickory dock. Cain has picked his lock. He did a bad deed and Josh comes to bleed. Hickory dickory dock."

DVD Extras: The barebones from Universal. Only Brief Production Notes and Original Trailer.

Bottom Line: A great psychological thriller. Gorehounds should pass though. A must for de Palma and Hitchcock fans.

Rating: 7/10
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Here We Are, On Familiar Ground
nycritic16 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Brian de Palma was once a great director who could do magic with his keen sense of suspense that paid a heavy homage to the works of Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and Sergei Eisenstein. However, he tried to sever himself from his patent themes of choice and tackled other genres. While he excelled with his crime drama THE UNTOUCHABLES, he failed miserably with THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES.

So by 1992 he decided (like most directors of a known style going through a bad patch) to go back to what he was known for. One problem, though. Assuming the role of screenwriter became his big misstep because as much as the idea works on paper, his dialog almost ruins the movie. It's the same thing that affected DRESSED TO KILL in which Nancy Allen was given some horrendous lines to say even when that film is a fantastic exercise in suspense and a correct reconstruction of a well-known story -- that of PSYCHO.

However, de Palma creates a masterful dream-like world not that different thematically from the worlds of Luis Bunuel and his bourgeois, caught in the middle of their own frenzied dreams which are harbingers of nightmares, waking up to find they may still be in the middle of something not quite real. The story opens up layers upon layers of mystique and mystery and reveals information only in fits and spurts, which leaves us in a state of wondering what the hell are we watching at times.

Indeed, it may take one more view to get the impenetrable mess that RAISING CAIN is, and this is due to the fact that so many of Carter's personalities come forth like an unseen cast operating only under John Lithgow's chameleon-like persona. In showing the two characters battling for the upper hand by placing Lithgow being a tree, for example -- a technique Peter Jackson would use for scenes in which Gollum and Smeagol shared their twisted, tragic banter about the wretched Ring in his LORD OF THE RINGS: THE TWO TOWERS -- he has one of the best moments of duplicity ever seen on screen, and one that doesn't need split screens or special effects to be potent.

But interesting as well is how another character is introduced, also under the persona of Lithgow. Margo, a kind woman, is only described by Lithgow's own words as being one "who looks after the children." I find it interesting that for Carter to be set free he has to let this female personality come forth and lead him to sure escape. As to whether she will remain as a dominant personality when she appears in the final reel remains a mystery but like Bunuel films, it's there, unexplained, shown mainly for a shock tactic a la UN CHIEN ANDALOU, but in a less threatening way.

RAISING CAIN is a pretty slick movie that should be seen at least twice. There is so much happening with its plot, and so much interpretations that can be given to the dreams that blend in with the reality which in itself may be a dream that it may well be one of his better films, underrated because of the fracas of BONFIRE. It's intoxicating, and a Brian de Palma movie, this is it, hands-down. Every scene is a hoot to watch: it's as if the director had a huge bag of tricks that were part of his style and he had decided to let them all out in a flood of images and great sequences. And this is not something directors of a certain vision can say they do. I have to say I loved every homage and element thrown in. The dream within a dream sequence, Dr. Waldheim's (Frances Sternhagen) explanation that follows her throughout a winding set of hallways before having the camera zoom in on a victims horrified face, Carter's wife Jenny's (Lolita Davidovich) sudden awakening inside a car that is sinking into a swamp (another PSYCHO link) and the final showdown happening at several levels and in slow motion. If anyone can do high suspense today, it's de Palma.
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Good, dark, twisting little thriller
Flora-96 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
After reading the reviews here I felt the need to defend this film. OK so it's not the best film in the world but what it is, is a good, dark twisting little thriller.

John Lithgow as Carter, Cain, Josh etc. is great and convincing in every role that he plays, as are the supporting players. The film is shocking, funny and sad.


Shocking is Jack's dying wife movements being reflected on the TV, funny is the character of Dr Waldheim and sad is the abuse inflicted on Carter by his dad.


If you go into the film expecting too much then you may well be disappointed but if you have no expectations and love black comedy then this film is for you. And compared with DePalma's most recent films (Snake Eyes, Mission to Mars) this film is a masterpiece, although obviously nowhere as good as Carrie.
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Daddy knows best
tieman646 June 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Surveillance didn't start with Nixon." – De Palma

Brian De Palma's "Raising Cain" typically gets compared to Hitchcock's "Psycho", but its got more in common with Kubrick's "The Shining". Here, like Kubrick's film, a seemingly nurturing father, Carter Nix, regresses into a unhinged, murderous male. Both films' "daddies" represent unchecked patriarchal rage, but whilst Kubrick's Jack Torrance is haunted by the ghosts of patriarchy, Carter Nix is literally possessed by his authoritarian father, whose abusive hands led to Carter developing multiple personalities.

Beneath its trashy exterior, "Raising Cain" is chiefly concerned with Nix's compulsion for control. Though he feigns compassion, Nix is emblematic of a breed of masculinist technocracy, obsessed with surveillance, cameras, discipline and actively engaged in a scheme to kidnap kids

Early scenes highlight this: television monitors show Nix comforting his young daughter, and then, shortly afterwards, telling a woman that "controlling early childhood development is essential in the creation of a wholesome personality". But while Nix hopes to traumatise kids in order to induce multiple personalities, he himself is fragmented (or displaced) because of his father's abuse. One of his many personalities is Cain, whom De Palma differentiates from Nix's other personalities by using canted noir angles. Cain marks the horrific return of the repressed id, which emerges as a ghost of a murderous past to unleash vengeance specifically on women and children.

Significantly, Cain's appearances are triggered when Nix is confronted with repressed fears and anxieties, not unlike the psychiatrist in De Palma's "Dressed to Kill". When Nix sees his wife having sex with Jack, her former boyfriend, Cain emerges and concocts a diabolical plot to murder Nix's wife. In typical De Palma fashion, however, the woman is magically resurrected. She then begins her mission to rescue her daughter from the hands of her deranged husband and his equally insane father.

Things get more complex when another one of Nix's multiple personalities, a figure called Margo, begins to take over Nix's personality. In a reversal of the transvestite role in De Palma's "Dressed to Kill", Margo becomes the maternal protector of Nix's multiple personalities.

In a slow motion sequences filled with phallic symbols, Margo then kills Nix's father as Nix's daughter falls into the arms of surrogate father Jack. Margo thus becomes at once the castrating female, the maternal id of Carter's multiple personalities, and the alter ego of Carter. In order for Carter to free himself of his father's tyranny and rescue his own childhood, as well as become the instrument in rescuing his daughter, he must become the maternal (m)Other. Though, as is often the case with De Palma's climaxes, there is some ambiguity about the final triumphant personality of Carter. Whether Margo is ultimately malevolent or benevolent is left up to the audience.

Like most horror films, whilst "Cain" opens up the possibility of a post-patriarchal future, it remains submerged in the patriarchal rage to which it calls attention. De Palma is doomed to be caught between his own critique of patriarchy and his inability either stylistically or ideologically to embrace a post-patriarchal future. He knows that only the release of monstrosities can destroy the forces that engendered them, but trapped in our historical moment, cannot concretize any prospect of change.

This has led to many feminist writers (for all the hate De Palma gets, feminists love him) leaping upon "Caine" as a symbol of post-Vietnam America and its patriarchal crisis. Nixon, wiretapping, government conspiracies and paranoia are common "themes" in the director's filmography, but with "Caine" it seems possible that the diabolical Dr. Carter Nix (two successive American presidents, Carter and Nixon?) is a cinematic analogue to the nefarious wiretapper Richard Nixon. Like Nix, Nixon traumatised a generation of young people in his perpetuation of war and the attendant repression at home against political dissidents. Moreover, Nixon's resignation after the disgrace of Watergate, like Nix Senior's exile after being charged with kidnapping children, represents an indictment of a patriarchal order that used its sons as sacrificial lambs in their mad designs. The reappearance of Nix Senior and the right-wing repressive patriarchal politics represented by Nixon in the figures of Reagan/Bush Senior suggest, for many feminist writers, a need to expose patriarchy's past.

Contrast De Palma's approach to these themes with that of his buddy Spielberg. With Spielberg, the castrated (loveable) father always retreats to a fantasy-scape of the past where he is restored and where there can exist no social fallout from his recuperation. Writing of this, Lynda Boose says: "America's post-Vietnam narrative is stamped with the intensity of a generation stuck in its own boyhood and now playing out, with increasing violence, an unconscious cultural myth that attempts to recover the father. The quest for the father - which might seem to be a reparative ideal - is dangerously regressive and invariably futile because what was required at the time of transition to adulthood cannot, by very definition, be incorporated twenty years later."

De Palma's cinema, however, exhibits the opposite trend. In his universe, the paternal super-ego, before its many De Palman castrations, is responsible for all manners of blood opera and baroque violence, women always the first to suffer, be it at the hands of the military, Hollywood, porn, capitalist exchange, organised crime and the various gender pressures delineated in "Sisters", "Carrie" and "The Fury".

Incidentally, "Caine" initially sported a very non-linear, radically different narrative structure. De Palma, however, reworked his scenes into something more conventional late in post-production.

7.9/10 – De Palma once said: "I spend a lot of time picking these architectural places precisely because they will take root in your subconscious. But the critics sort of dismiss it as nice camera work." By De Palma's standards, "Caine" features poor architecture.
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A Fun Film
clark_ricky19 January 2006
Despite the hordes of comments made about this film explaining where it 'went wrong', it appears a great deal of these reviews are from viewers failing to recognise the directors tongue in cheek intentions.

The film is a satirical thriller/horror that abides by the conventions of the genre, though twists them. Instead of concentrating on what the audience doesn't know and building up to a yawn-full climax, a cliché that Scream parodies, the film takes on the perspective of the psycho, presenting the audience with more information than other characters.

The obvious influences, or should I say homages, to Hitchcock show De Palma's respect for his predecessors, though it appears De Palma is also presenting us with a parody of Psycho, which is a reason in itself to watch this movie.

Along with other directors (Including Scorsese, Coppola, Spielberg and Lucas), Brian De Palma has been labelled as a 'movie brat', and I think this film is a prime example of a film made by this generation of filmmakers.
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I Don't Get The Fuss!
alimabean3 September 2000
Warning: Spoilers
The first several minutes of this movie may seem confusing, but by the end (especially after a second viewing) it comes together quite nicely. This seems to be one of those either love it or hate it movies. I happen to think it's great. There are several scenes that use imagery that stays with you.

The acting is above par and the direction made me a DePalma fan (until Mission to Mars, that is). The movie is fairly accurate as far as the disorder goes which makes it that much better.

I'm not a big Lithgow fan, but I thought he did very well in this. I don't see why so many people hated this. I gave it a 9.

**POSSIBLE SPOILER HEREAFTER** ******************************

The darkest portion of this movie, which I think most people missed, is not Lithgow (Cain) capturing kids for the father. The darkest part is what they didn't show but only talked about. A father abused his own son to purposely create a disorder that he was trying to study -- not cure.
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De Palma Still Impresses
Movieguy-4729 July 1999
Despite the fact that he wrote a rather unintelligent script for his 1992 effort, director Brian De Palma's "Raising Cain" is still fast, funny, and, occasionally, very scary.

In order not to reveal too much and spoil this wild little roller coaster ride, all I will say is that John Lithgow plays or at least speaks for five very different roles(!)

De Palma isn't at his all-time best, but Lithgow proves that he is one of the great character actors of our time. Rated R. 95 minutes. 6 out of 10.
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not as bad as it could be!
Chancery_Stone30 January 2001
Yes, it's bad for the man who made Carrie, but it's not as bad as it might be. A lot of it is tongue-in-cheek (witness the long tracking shot of the pet psychologist explaining split personalities) and it has some terrific bizarre moments, not least the scariest drowning-in-a-car scene in film history. It's a very weird movie and John Lithgow gives a great camp performance in it. I don't know if Brian set out to make a schlocky trash movie but that's what he did, and as such, it's fun. Watch it and see.
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The silliest film ever made...?
SteSykes6 February 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Possibly the most entertainingly sill film I've ever seen...


Raising Cain is almost like a parody of a De Palma film in some places, with the extravagant camera moves and blatant Hitchcock rip-offs, but I mean that in a good way. The film was often entertaining, the performances were generally OK (except for John Lithgow, who was as enjoyably over-the-top as ever) and even though it's made patently obvious from the very beginning that the main two characters Lithgow is playing are actually the same, the ending did come as a bit of a surprise. It's sometimes scary, sometimes funny, and often laughably absurd, but still highly watchable.

Raising Cain is certainly not classic De Palma, clearly not up to the standards of Carrie, Dressed to Kill or Blow Out, but it is a very entertaining film all the same, and more proof that he should be making more of the typical De Palma films and less of the Hollywood guff. 8/10
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*** 1/2 out of ****
kyle_c1 December 2002
De Palma's tongue-in-cheek twist on his own thriller formula works mainly as an inside joke for his fans - if you're looking for a standard formulaic suspense thriller, watch something else. Lithgow puts on a show with several superbly over-the-top performances. Some parts are scary, some suspenseful, and some hilarious, although they all have the mark of a virtuoso filmmaker - and they succeed because he doesn't take them seriously for a second. For De Palma fans, they don't get any more entertaining than this. However, non-fans might not get it.
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never saw that coming
kirk_bones27 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I am not really a big Brian De Palma fan and i only had this on on in the background while keeping only half an eye on it but by the end was actually gripped by it and giving it all my attention. John Lithgow plays Dr Carter Nix who as a child was a psychological experiment for his warped father and this led to him developing multi-personality disorder,which included his father and the evil Cain. Now I only remember John Lithgow from the excellent out of this world comedy "Third Rock from the sun" and didn't really think he could do the multiple personality thing but I was pleasantly surprised and let me tell you that his portrayal of the evil Cains actually made my skin crawl. If you watch this film you need to keep a real eye on it as sometimes the personality switches come thick and fast and this film has a lot of twists and turns. You know there will a twist at the end but when it happened i thought,"wow ,now i never saw that coming" This is a very good psychological thriller and i give it a solid 8/10
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Muddled,derivative exercise in De Palmary with flashes of interest
DrLenera30 March 2005
Brian De Palma seems to generally make two kinds of films,those aimed at a mass audience {such as The Untouchables,Carrie,Carlito's Way,Mission Impossible} and those he makes to please himself and real fans {such as Femme Fatale,Blow Out,Body Double,Snake Eyes}. Dressed to Kill is somewhere in between. Raising Cain is definitely in the second category. Unfortunately,even to fans of De Palma it will probably disappoint. It has points of interest,but overall is something of a mess,in fact it has a hurried,unfinished feel to it,as if it was made in a rush.

Somewhat toning down the expected sex and violence {although there is a disturbing element of child abuse},De Palma shows much of the film from the point of view of his psycho,which is interesting and allows John Lithgow full rein to have fun with his role{s}. Several times we are shown something,only for the film to double back and show that something else actually happened. This may reflect the fractured state of it's protagonist but may just be downright infuriating to some.

Disappointedly,Raising Cain only has one great De Palma set piece near the end,leaving one feeling somewhat short changed for thrills. The film also has little of the visual inventiveness one expects from De Palma,in fact for much of the time it's visually dull,although at least there's a lush Pino Donnaggio score to hear. Along the way De Palma peppers the film with film homages,some of them surprising {Ghost Story,Peeping Tom,Tenebrae} and some of them from his own {Dressed to Kill,Sisters},but there's not enough originality to counter them.

Raising Cain is basically a director having fun. Unfortunately,it may be difficult for viewers to join in this time.
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Flawed, Conventional, Predictable and Poorly Written
Claudio Carvalho1 November 2015
The psychologist Dr. Carter Nix (John Lithgow) leaves a park with his little daughter Amy and takes a ride with the mother of another child. He tries to convince her to leave her son travel to Norway for an experiment with his father but she does not accept. Dr. Nix uses chloroform to take her boy and leaves the unconscious woman in the trunk of her car with his brother Cain to get rid of her. His wife Dr. Jenny Nix (Lolita Davidovich) is worried about his obsession for Amy. When Jenny meets her former lover Jack (Steven Bauer) in a store, she has a love affair with him and plans to leave her husband. However Carter discovers their love affair and he kills a babysitter and leaves clues incriminating Jack. Then he suffocates Jenny with a pillow, puts her body into her car and submerges it in a swamp. Carter goes to the police department claiming that his wife and his daughter are missing. He also tells that he had seen a stranger in the park. Lt. Terri (Gregg Henry) and Sgt. Cally (Tom Bower) that are in charge of the investigation asks Carter to do a sketch of the suspect. However a veteran detective recalls the case of Carter's father and he summons Dr. Waldheim (Frances Sternhagen) that discloses how deranged his father was. Out of the blue, Jenny returns and now the police needs to find where the kidnapped children are.

"Raising Cain" is a deceptive thriller by Brian De Palma, with a flawed, conventional, predictable and poorly story. The plot is unbelievable, commercial and silly, with the strange situations easily resolved. How could Jenny escape from a car submerged in a swamp? Her infidelity that triggers completely madness in Carter becomes "politically correct". Jack saving Amy with the spear coming toward him is ridiculous. The conclusion might be a joke or a tribute to "Dressed to Kill". My vote is five.

Title (Brazil): "Síndrome de Caim" ("Cain Sindrome")
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Raising Cain (1992) BOMB
JoeKarlosi14 November 2005
I would call this a major disappointment if not for the fact that I've always heard it was pretty bad before I finally got around to seeing it. But it's still a major letdown in the sense that I generally enjoy Brian DePalma's films, so I was quite shocked that this was completely empty in every way. And to add insult to injury, DePalma even wrote this nonsense! It features John Lithgow as a crackpot with multiple personalities who kidnaps little children and is tormented by the memories of his equally nutty dad, who made him the basket case he is today. We're never quite sure what the point of everything is supposed to be; the plot is nowhere to be found. All we can surmise is that this detached husband/father has different people battling inside of him. Well, that may have been enough at one time in cinematic history, but by 1992 it was too old hat on its own to sustain interest. As bad as this movie is, I at least expected Lithgow to make a good looney bird; instead, his dopey characterizations come off as funny rather than intense or threatening. He adds nothing to the mix, and neither do the other actors nor their characters.

I didn't even get the usual vibe of intriguing direction from DePalma, and what very few instances of visual style I could see were things not only borrowed from Hitchcock (as we're now prepared to expect), but even DePalma's own DRESSED TO KILL (1980)! I found this dog to be completely without worth, and that's why I gave it my lowest rating. 0 out of ****
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Not as bad as they say...
DrunkN_M18 January 2000
I feel that I have to defend this movie a little... I agree that it wasn't a full force De Palma movie but I definitely think it deserves recognition. This movie had both its good and its bad but I felt that the story is the reason I liked it, though not many others seem to agree I guess it's because of the acting job... not horrible mind you but can be a little cheezy at times and makes it seem that the story would be better off on paper than on the big screen. I would also have to agree that John Lithgow is a better comedian than he is a psycho (though it's fun to watch him be both LOL). The movie also had a cool twist that fans of Sixth Sense might like though it wasn't delivered with nearly as much force and was kinda hinted slowly instead. I still say it's a good movie worth checking out for anyone that loves a good psychological thriller though watch it knowing that the story is the best part and not the special effects or anything else.
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grahamcarter-112 May 2017
Warning: Spoilers
In 'Raising Cain' Brian DePalma is throwing a tantrum, and has tailored a film that includes all the elements that most of his critics despise. However, he wastes no time in telegraphing his intentions by utilising the very same Saul Bass style titles that were used in 'Psycho'. Carter is a child psychologist whose father, also a psychologist, used him as a test subject to examine the factors by which a young personality can be formed (shades of Michael Powell's 'Peeping Tom').

DePalma uses his director's muscle well at times, regardless of all the films obvious flaws. A scene between Cain and Dr. Nix in a motel room uses an approach similar to the high doorknobs in Argento's 'Suspiria', with Dr. Nix being filmed in an obviously undersized set making him larger, and Cain being filmed from an extreme high angle to put him in his place, and it is acted with heightened emotion and overplayed to absurdity… much like the film as a whole.

The film is from the get go a web of dreams, and watching '…Cain' and trying to pin down where reality stops, and dream states begin makes Carter / Cain / Dr. Nix / Josh / Margo's schizophrenia uncomplicated in comparison. DePalma turns the film's second act into a maze of dream sequences within flashbacks within fantasies and Jenny spends the rest of the film either waking up in the wrong bed, or dying violently, over and over. Yet, to assure us it all makes perfect sense, DePalma presents one of his long bravura traveling shots (reminiscent of 'Bonfire of the Vanities'), where Dr. Waldheim delivers a long annotated case history. The shot has them walking down stairs and catching elevators without a cut.

Melodramatic, broadly acted, with flashbacks/dream sequences and shock edits, and yet it almost feels like a telemovie as DePalma's normal sex and violence is so restrained. '…Cain' references Hitchcock, ('Psycho's' opening credits through to the car submerging in the lake). The climactic sequence at the motel finds DePalma touching base with his 'The Untouchables' (and therefore Eisenstein's 'Battleship Potemkin'). His own 'Dressed To Kill' comes across with the elevator shenanigans, and the final surprise reveal shot is pure Argento 'Tenebre'. The park sequence is a nod to Argento's 'Four Flies On Grey Velvet', and the truck with the sundial suggests an event similar to Argento's 'The Bird With The Crystal Plumage' or 'Tenebre' is about to happen.
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De Palma goes more for the laughs than the scares in one of his few misfires
gridoon20188 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Just one year before his big critical and commercial comeback with "Carlito's Way", Brian De Palma wrote and directed this cute little black comedy about mother-killing and child-kidnapping! It's one of his few misfires: the script is weak, sometimes muddled (there are a few too many dream sequences) and at other times explaining at length things that the audience has already understood. There are parts of this film that are actually boring, which is usually the last thing De Palma's films can be accused of. But it's not a total write-off: John Lithgow has a field day playing multiple roles, there are some De Palma visual flourishes, and the opening sequence - especially the "sneezing" part - is absolutely hilarious and unforgettable! ** out of 4.
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De Palma's tribute to Hitchcock
Frank White5 June 2015
One of the most jolting and disturbing horror thrillers ever made, "Raising Cain" centers around the character(s) played by John Lithgow, as a man outwardly known as Carter but in whom lie submerged a number of other personalities, including the malevolent title character Cain. Carter, as it turns out in the first few minutes of the film, was the original personality but was split off into new side personalities as a result of the deliberate infliction of trauma by his father for the purpose of researching multiple personalities (one of the most disturbing incarnations of the 'mad scientist' idea ever seen on film). The re-emergence (or raising) of Cain and the subsequent abduction of the child of Carter and his wife Jenny (well played by the underrated Lolita Davidovich) sets off one of the scariest movies in history, with riveting suspense and visual shocks that are literally jolting, like few movies have ever achieved. Extremely recommended for horror, suspense and mystery fans.
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De Palma + Lithgow = Greatness.
punishmentpark8 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
John Lithgow... hero. Brian De Palma... hero. And a combination of the two couldn't go wrong, right? Right! Again, Hitchcock is the first to be named as reference, but only for those who have never heard of De Palma... This time, it's 'Psycho' which is the main inspiration. In the middle things get pretty complicated, with all the dreams and incidents and whether or not something is actually happening or not, but all will land on its feet - more or less. And the finale is a beauty. As is Lolita Davidovich.

Sure, the film has a certain TV-movie feel and look to it at times, the story is utterly twisting and Lithgow's acting is (apparently) not for everyone, but yours truly loves it all the more becáuse of just those things. One little thing I could object to, is that the Jenny character explains a little too much via voice-over - but what the heck.

9 out of 10.
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Essentially fluff... so bring out the popcorn
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews23 April 2012
Jenny finds herself doubting if she is happy when her ex comes back into town... she reminds herself that she is married to the perfect man, an excellent psychiatrist who's taken time off his own practice to spend more time with their daughter, Amy. He is getting somewhat obsessive about it, though... almost like he's... studying her. De Palma goes so far in this homage to Hitchcock that the entire film is one big tribute to the master, and he plays with the camera as he also loves to do(we get a couple of long takes, one of them 4 full minutes, and one sequence has great use of slow-mo... not quite the subway scene in The Untouchables, of course), and we get a tension-packed, suspenseful psychological thriller(light, in the way that it uses the Hollywood approach to mental problems; it is actually a brutal, disturbing, bloody and violent piece with some strong sexuality... also setting it apart from Alfred's pictures - then again, he might have gone this far if the censorship laws had allowed for it, considering stuff like Frenzy), with a lot of the power coming from Lithgow's inherent creepiness(and he's perfectly cast, if some of what he's asked to do here is awkward... and do not look at the IMDb listings before watching, it will spoil a lot). The characters aren't bad(nothing spectacular, but likable and interesting enough), and the acting is plenty solid. This has a lot going on, especially as far as the plot goes(you may want to give it a second viewing just to make sure you picked up on everything that happened), and not only for a fast-paced movie that doesn't break 90 minutes. The chronology can really confuse you, as well as the score of surprises(and several fake-outs!). And at the end of the day, this is mainly meant to entertain you, and it lacks the kick of credible flicks. The DVD comes with a trailer. I recommend this to any fan of the director, star and the man whose body of work provided the inspiration. 6/10
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Cain is a hero that God cursed out of conservative spite
Dr Jacques COULARDEAU28 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This film is going to make you feel berserk and even maybe completely corrugated. Cain has been haunting Semitic and Western civilizations like hell – the proper word of course – since the birth of Ra. There is always somewhere in the godly, godlike and divine families a treacherous brother in a way or another. Strangely enough Freud preferred the treacherous only son, Oedipus, but the spectre of Cain is still flying high and strong in the sky of western and even slightly more than western consciousness.

Brian de Palma had to invent a trick to make it slightly more interesting than just the bad younger brother who killed his elder brother. So he goes rake in the ashes of psychoanalysis with a lot of popular people vestment and sauce and comes up with the mad scientist, in this case mad psychoanalyst who decided to test his theory about split personalities on his own son.

The idea is simple and it is said to be natural and the perversion is only the activation of it by a doctor and a father. Anyone has one personality and every single time they do something wrong or are afraid of doing something wrong they just shift the responsibility to a phantasmagorical brother Cain who takes the blame and you are free and clean like a virgin. This of course happens in your mind and you can always yell at that brother before he does the wrong thing and that's it.

In this case we have somewhere a father who has been forced to develop a double personality by his own father. This bad Cain in him makes him steal children for his father to go on experimenting on live guinea pigs, or guinea fowls if you prefer feathered birds to bristled mammals, And then the wife, the daughter, and everyone else does not know what is happening except that bodies turn up here and there and children disappear from here and there.

There will be a very good ending since only grownups and women die (don't tell me Brian de Palma is sexist), and a very bad ending since Cain has migrated into virtual reality and can now navigate in the world without having nothing to say to anyone and no account to give though a lot of account to settle.

Poor Cain. To be like that cursed to death and forever just because God decided not to favour his present of fruits of the soil and preferred the animal presents from Abel. God cursed Cain after he killed Abel and yet Cain is the father of music and arts and of metal work, hence of the metallurgy revolution that took place some time in the middle of the Neolithic transformation and made the conquest of Europe by a minority of Indo-Europeans possible since they had metal for ploughing the earth and for defending themselves.

Here de Palma only keeps the horror of the curse. Too bad because Cain is a child of light in spite of the curse God sent him: the future was not in migratory herd keepers but in sedentary agricultural workers. God had it all wrong in a way because God was a conservative conservationist. I guess God would vote against Monsanto and GMOs.

We should start a Cain alliance to bring together all those who have been the victims of some higher up bureaucrats who think they are Gods because they have an armchair in an air-conditioned office, and a lot of free time to do nothing at all except jerking their neuronal and neurotic dendrites.

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Hickory Dickory Dock, Cain Has Picked His Lock ...
ShootingShark10 March 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Carter Nix seems to be a devoted husband and father, but behind this facade lurks a shady past and some decidedly odd relations. When Carter's twisted brother Cain shows up and some local children go missing, can the police figure out what's going on in time ?

Brian DePalma's best films are just so deliciously twisted, and in my view this is one of his very best. There are at least five fantastic aaaaahhhhh moments in it; the comatose wife awaking from her slumber at the wrong moment, Carter abruptly smothering Jenny with the pillow, the shocking twist on the old car-in-the-swamp Psycho moment, Jenny's sudden appearance on the baby monitor, Margot headbutting Dr Waldheim. All of these are beautifully, lovingly stylised, but the whole movie is just full of fantastic sequences, culminating in the terrific showdown at the motel. It also has a completely outstanding four-minute shot in the middle walking through the cop-shop, where Sternhagen ploughs through a ton of back-story, hits about a thousand marks (including some intentionally wrong ones) and emotes like there's no tomorrow. If ever you hear some phony-baloney actor type spouting off about have to struggle to find their character, show them this scene - Sternhagen is wild, funny, gripping, irascible, scared, intriguing and intense, all at the same time. Better yet, Lithgow is equally sensational, playing five characters with terrific abandon, weedy one moment, terrifying the next. Okay, so DePalma may have trodden this ground before (Sisters, Dressed To Kill, Body Double), but nobody does these crazy, sexy, twisty-turny thrillers as well as he does, and the cinematic power of these incredible set-pieces is just astonishing. Here's a movie where not a moment is wasted, where every shot is both artfully composed and intrinsically important, where every nuance the actors can provide contributes to the mood and the shocks. It's simply fantastic from start to finish. With a terrific score by Pino Donaggio (the music makes me scream every time) and fabulous photography throughout from Stephen H. Burum, this is a masterclass is technical filmmaking. Produce by Gale Anne Hurd (of Terminator fame) and brilliantly written and directed by DePalma, this is a great, gleeful, creepy, exciting, shocking, fantastically well-executed thriller.
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Worst movie ever
alisong31 January 2001
I saw this movie in the theater and will never forget it. We thought we were going to see a suspense flick - we got this pathetic waste of film instead. Everyone in the theater laughed through the whole thing. The ending, in particular, is ludicrous and even John Lithgow (who I've loved since "Garp") couldn't pull this one off.

I am the type of person who can find something redeeming in almost *every* movie...

This is one of the few that I couldn't.
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