A movie most guys would rate a “10” based on the opening sequence alone, Carrie begins with young teenage girls playing volleyball and then cuts to not only a nudity-filled locker room scene… but a slow motion one! De Palma, you’re a bona fide genius.
Carrie is the story of a timorous young girl, Carrie (Sissy Spacek), with the unique gift of telekinesis [she can move things with her mind] who is continuously taunted by classmates, overlooked by other (with the exception of hard-nosed gym teacher Miss Collins) and abused by her religiously-fanatical mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie). Being invited to her senior prom with school stud Tommy Ross begins to give Carrie the confidence and sense of belonging that she’s always wanted. However, when barbie-nemesis Chris (Nancy Allen) and Vinnie Barbarino, I mean, Billy (John Travolta) plays a prank on Carrie, the “last straw” is quite a doozy!
I will let this review stand as my example of how a “classic” horror film by a great director can score only 6 bear claws. Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are both sensational, and produce two very intriguing and entertaining characters. One anti-social, insecure, mouse-of-a-person on the one hand and flamboyant, irrational and madly-driven on the other. This movie as a whole barely fits into the horror genre (in my opinion). I’m sure it will frighten some (I don’t know necessarily how) but all of the characters (even Carrie at times) go so over-the-top that they produce a caricature. Since our sensitivities are with Carrie, our emotions are sympathetic and concerning. But the scripture-quoting mother who reminds her daughter that “…the first sin was intercourse” and “I can see your dirty pillows” becomes quite laughable. The gym teacher with carte blanch enough to strike her undisciplined students gave me a “Right on sister!”-type feeling and added a nice sense of swift justice. But then comes the principle with the incapacity to remember a simple, two-syllable name like “Carrie” and misspeak it an embarrassing 4 times in under 2 minutes. He deserved to be strangled and then slapped multiple times with a sack of horse manure.
Don’t get me wrong…Carrie was an “good time” to the very end, but didn’t turn into veritable horror until Sissy Spacek unleashed those eyeballs on us. But then, I ask you, does donning a gown drenched in pig blood and the ability to stare like a lemur constitute true horror?
After some contemplation – after looking at all sides – I came to a much different conclusion and opinion of the nature of the character of Carrie. Most people will likely see the innocent girl with paranormal powers. But what if the mom was right? Margaret keeps saying that she was “born out of sin”, and even though she is as fragile as a lamb Carrie has in her the staggering capacity to kill, and afterwards, show little remorse for her actions. Another detail that is overlooked is that the closet/prayer box/confessional booth has in it, not the statuette of Jesus Christ (as would be common & expected) but of St. Sebastian [notice the piercing of arrows], the saint of conversion. Perhaps Carrie is not so innocent after all… and good ol’ mum is just trying her very best to convert her demonically-possessed daughter? Something to think about I suppose?
All in all, Carrie was an entertaining film with only a mediocre story & script. One could almost see this story as “Cinderella gone mental.” I thought there were some interesting camera shots (particularly in the beginning. hehe) but were sub-par for De Palma. There was little attention to detail regarding the final scenes with several inconstancies that are (at least for most) clear-as-day. However, Carrie is a triumph for the two leading ladies (Spacek & Laurie) and a humorous look at the ultimate high school revenge. And remember two things: ONE… “We will never be free until nerd persecution ends” (-Nerds movie). [Think on this, it might just save your life!] And TWO… eat your apple pie, “because pimples are God’s way of chastising you.” Or don’t.