Carrie

Brian De Palma, USA, 1976, 98 minutes

Carriesees De Palma on top form in what is perhaps his preferred territory, namely that of the horror movie. Sissy Spacek could almost have been born just to play Carrie, the daughter of an ultra religious Christian, whose fanatical and dictatorial character dominates her life, causing her to be treated by her "cool" high school peers as a "weirdo", and general social outcast. However, with the onset of puberty Carrie discovers that she possesses fantastic psychic powers and sufficient means to strike back at her teenage antagonists.

In the hands of De Palma this seemingly straightforward horror story becomes a vehicle for a slick display of stylistic virtuosity. His intermingling of dreamy romanticism and schlock horror is a pleasure to behold, climaxing in a fantastic scene at the high school dance where all the stops are pulled out (slow motion shots, split screen sequences, floating soft focus cameras and numerous other devices) to make Carrie's final humiliation a truly stunning set piece. While De Palma's obvious linking of the supernatural and the emergent female sexuality is not an uncommon one for a horror movie to make (see The Exorcist, for example), his evident sympathy with the internal turmoil and pain of the eponymous "heroine" is relatively unusual for the genre. Carrie is all the more impressive and fascinating as a consequence.

Review by Iain Harral
Taken from EUFS Programme 1994-95