John Travolta wants me to git ur done in Horror Month 2009, git ur done indeed John!
Written By: Lawrence D. Cohen
Directed By: Brian De Palma
Brian De Palma must not like standard horror beats, because he doesn’t use a single one in the entirety of Carrie. This is a horror film, but stack it up against any horror film I have ever seen and it plays much different. The only moments that most modern audiences would identify as horror occur in the final half hour, but because De Palma avoids the standard beats those aren’t actually the only horror moments. This makes for an interesting viewing experience, one that could have been a bit better, but I don’t think the absence of standard horror beats detracts from Carrie in any way.
The true horror in Carrie occurs in the torment of Carrie, the way the roles are reversed and the person who will wreak devastation is the person we empathize with while her victims are the ones we detest. This spurs on some hard questions in the audience. We have been forced to feel for Carrie, to want good things to happen to her and when they don’t it’s only natural for us to feel good about the revenge she exacts. But one must take a look at Carrie after she kills her classmates, she isn’t happy about what she’s done, that much is obvious, but what does this say about our happiness?
Sissy Spacek is really good as the title character, I was surprised to find out she made this movie after Badlands. The rest of the cast fill their roles just fine, but they don’t bring anything to the table worth talking about. Piper Laurie is also very good as Carrie’s crazed mother, but the true star is Spacek. She adds a bunch of emotion to her character, the hazing Carrie endures is bad enough, but when you see Spacek’s eyes you truly feel for her. Of course later this changes and you see the rage in her eyes and that is quite a scary sight.
Carrie isn’t a film without its share of problems, most notably in some weird tricks De Palma tries with his camera. The Carrie/Tommy dancing scene is a bit disorienting because of the sped up camera, while the deaths of Chris and Billy leave something to be desired, in terms of payoff and the technique used to show their deaths. Where De Palma really loses me is with the hazy locker room sequence near the beginning of Carrie. The slow-mo journey through the girls locker room is very exploitative and doesn’t belong in this particular movie. Carrie having her period is fine, but what happens before that feels very, very off.
It’s not the revelatory horror experience some people have labeled it as, but Carrie is a good horror movie nonetheless. It’s buoyed by the performance of Spacek and the final thirty minutes do feature some genuine horror moments, even if it does go on too long and have an unnecessary dream sequence to finish off the movie. I’ll say this much, this is by far the best De Palma film I have seen, it’s too bad he couldn’t improve upon this in any of his future efforts. Watch out for the falling pig blood and the lady with the crazy eyes, but Carrie should watch out because Chris’ future partner is RoboCop!