Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a shy, timid teenager, who’s bullied at school and mistreated by her religious zealot of a mother at home. After an especially traumatic experience at school, she starts to show signs of telekinetic powers.
When she’s invited to the school prom by Tommy Ross (William Kat), she starts to feel like life might be getting better; but a prank will turn her prom night into a night of terror.
Before I start, I think we need to take a moment to show our appreciation for Tommy Ross’ hair.
Because, that? Is some truly glorious hair.
Carrie is a classic horror movie. And the danger with classics is that everyone already has a set opinion about them, and will threaten to cut you if your opinion doesn’t line up with their own.
Thankfully, I’m on the “Carrie is a great movie” side of this particular debate(?), so I’m probably safer than I would be otherwise.
The cinematography in Carrie is brilliant. You can tell that every shot is deliberately framed, with the intent of conveying a particular emotional tone. The same goes for the set design and costuming, which are all clear in conveying a sense of who the characters are; and the music, which did a brilliant job of ratcheting up the tension when necessary. Sure, some of these things might seem a little dated after 38 years (wow!), but I still think they achieve what they’re meant to.
I have to admit, Sissy Spacek aside, I’m not too enamoured with any of the acting. Yes, that includes Piper Laurie’s depiction of her mother. I know that alone might be rather controversial, but aside from her monologue about Carrie’s conception, well…I don’t know, it just didn’t do anything for me.
Amy Irving is downright bad. I mean, I’m pretty sure she was stoned for the entire movie.
What really stood out to me about this movie is what was permissible then, versus now. For example, I don’t think you’d see the pubic hair of teenage characters, or such lingering shots of them taking a shower. College kids? It depends on the movie, I suppose. But not teens.
Meanwhile, whereas this version of Carrie has little in the way of blood (and no gore), I think that we get the complete opposite today. It’s all about the blood and gore! Which makes for an interesting contrast.
Despite thinking that Carrie is a great movie, I did find myself questioning what exactly is meant to be happening in the final act. Given that the movie’s almost 40 years old I think I can put aside my usual rule about spoilers (although, if you don’t want to read any: hint – SPOILERS ahead) and say that I don’t understand why the house comes caves in on itself after Carrie kills her mother. It seems pretty clear that she’s not doing it to herself (or why would she try and protect herself?), so is it meant to be divine retribution, or something along those lines? If so, I actually find that a little annoying. Sure, she might have just killed a whole bunch of people, but it only happened because she was driven to it…
And I guess that’s one of the greatest triumphs of this movie: despite everything that happens, Carrie still comes across as a tragically sympathetic character. That’s a definite win for everyone involved in making the movie.
On a final note: I’ve already decided I’m going to write about the 2013 remake at some point, but I want to read the novel before I do that. This might take a while, since I’ll be in the middle of a hectic semester at university by the time this post goes up. But, don’t worry, it’s coming!