Montreal Film Journal


This horror classic might be the ultimate teen angst flick. Many, many other films have shown pissed off teenagers who just had enough of parents and high school, but most of the time, they didn't do much about it. In the late 80s, Winona Ryder and Christian Slater did kill a bunch of their classmates, but it was in the so-so dark comedy "Heathers". This film, on the other hand, is really a masterpiece of the genre, thanks to the talents of Stephen King, Brian De Palma and Sissy Spacek.

Carrie White is like many young girls you may have met. Pretty, but shy and confused. More often than not, she's the school's laughing stock She's also having problems at home since her mom is a Jesus freak who sees sin everywhere, and doesn't want her daughter to do anything. But through all this, Carrie also has something special. She has telekinesis, the power to move things with the power of her mind. She doesn't use it very often, maybe because it scares her, but when prom night brings her a truck load of more humiliation, she might just lose it. Big time.

What makes this film so superior to most horror flicks is that it's surprisingly smart and insightful. It was written by Stephen King, who truly is a brilliant author if you look beyond the gore. As you probably know, many of his books were brought to the big screen, not always successfully. Many adaptations weren't more than cheap exploitation flicks, but who could forget Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining", or "The Shawshank Redemption", which was actually nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Carrie is another one of these awesome adaptations. King takes a jab at religious fanaticism, but most of the film is about how horror can spring out of people. That's one of the film's strengths: it doesn't rely on a monster or a psycho, but on normal characters who get crazy as a result of the events.

Then there's De Palma's brilliant direction. His film is truly creepy and filled with interesting camerawork and stunning visuals. De Palma also got some exceptional performances from his cast. Sissy Spacek is amazing in the title role. She ain't a beauty queen, but she's beautiful in her own way and she's a great actress. Her mother is played by Piper Laurie, who really looks insane in the film. Nancy Allen and John Travolta can also be seen in smaller roles. De Palma must have liked what he saw since he brought the pair together again as the stars of Blow Out. All this adds up to make of Carrie a truly terrific film, featuring some of the most memorable imagery from boy De Palma.