Carrie (1976) Film Review
It occurred to me at the end of this classic, that we don’t see horror’s like these anymore on the big screen. This horror isn’t dependent on ‘jump-outs’ and it’s not dependent on dark places such as ally’s. This is a horror established in a high school, the horror of bullying. I’m sure everyone who has seen the film whether that be back in 1976 when the film premiered, or last week, everyone remembers the shower scene.
Carrie was in it’s beginnings, a novel written by the great horror writer, Stephen King. King had gotten the idea back in the days when he was a janitor for a high school to help fund his writing. He noted the horror and evil that could take place in such an establishment.
Carrie is not like normal young women, she has telekinesis, an ability to move objects with the power of her mind. Carrie does not know of this ability and is brainwashed into believing it is the devils work through her bat crazy mother. However in her own investigations into the school library she finds that it is a medical phenomena that some believe is fiction, however in this case, it is most certainly not.
The bullying that Carrie receives is relentless at home and at school, most of which is orchestrated by Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen). However shortly after receiving a strict and violent telling off by gym instructor, a member of the gang, Sue Snell (Irving) feels a true sense of guilt, and asks her friend Tommy Ross (Katt) a top athlete to take her to the prom, to show Carrie that it’s not all bad, and to show her that there is a life out there to love and dream about.
From early on the audience are introduced to Carrie’s mother, Margret who convey’s a psychotic obsessiveness with religion and tries to control her daughter like a puppeteer in her forgiveness to the lord. Margret is aware of Carrie’s ability, and constantly abuses her child into praying for forgiveness which in turn has made her social awkward. The mother is much of an antagonist as the girls at the school in this film which makes her life feel like a prison, with no one to talk to, except Mrs. Collins a teacher who at first seems kind and aware of Carrie, however as the film progresses, it could be argued that she develops a strong surrogate mother figure towards her. Maybe too strong.
Nevertheless during the closure of the film, Carrie tells her mother that she is going to the prom. Shortly after a cup of water in Carrie’s face and an argument in which Carrie displays her power to her mother, she goes and leaves for possibly the best night of her life, and we’re happy, the bitch has been told and Carrie is fulfilling her life, but thats was before.
One of the most magnificent things about this horror, and why it’s so acclaimed, is because Brian De Palma and Lawrence D. Cohen (Writer) with the material from King, aren’t trying to portray this film as a horror. It’s far more than that, this is a story about a young woman who’s been confined her whole life into thinking she was the devils work and received constant abuse at school. This is a story of her blossoming, her coming of age if you will. Which is why the final scenes are so purely horrifying.
After taking up the proposition of prom, she accepts and they dance and they talk and surprisingly to Tommy, he’s also having a great time. What only the audience have the horror of knowing, is that a bucket of pigs blood lay above the stage where king and queen will stand, and let’s just say there’s been some tampering with the results.
The whole process of Carrie and Tommy winning the award is displayed in slow motion as the audience get’s to fully thrive on this moment for the character, to feel the real applause from the audience and the feeling that Carrie has changed that night. However the cross-cutting between the bucket with which Chris and Billy (Young Travolta) are harnessing is horrifying as we know of the certain fate that awaits her. This scene in fact reminded me a little of Hitchcock, in how he was the master of suspending time to the point where the audience were almost crawling underneath the seats. Carries mother said before she left that they would quote, ‘all laugh at her’ and they do. For it’s the last thing they wish they could’ve taken back, because this unleashes the true power of Carries Telekinesis. The house lights are shattered and only the red stage lights beam, and soon the floors run red.
'I should have given you the lord when you was born, but I was weak'. These are the words spoken by Carries mother and her return. 'We will pray one last time'.
Carrie (1976) is a truly great horror film, one of the best I’ve ever seen. It’s storytelling by Brian is perfect and the films pace and direction by D. Cohen with once again the material from Stephen King’s book, is at the right speed for us to enjoy this story.