Carrie (1976) Review
Written by: BlackTequilaKiss
Before I get started I want to admit something… I love the book! It was pretty short, descriptive, to the point without condensing it. The characters were a joy to read of and the turmoil that Carrie faced were shocking yet somehow liberating. So for me the movie could only be one of two things, hit or miss. There was no middle ground to speak of and if I hated it, oh, it would feel my wrath.
I am pleased to say I loved the movie and while some of the story was taken away from the movie, the majority of it really did push the book into focus and really stay true to the old ties. I also admit I did not for one singular moment think Sissy Spacek was the best choice for Carrie. Throughout the book I had a much different version of Carrie within my head and I did worry that Sissy would not live up to that potential, thankfully I was wrong. She nailed the part and truly made the role her own.
Yes it is fair to say from an avid fan of the book that I loved the movie just as much if not more.
Carrie White is a shy alienated teenager who longs to break free of chains. Brought up in isolation by her psychotically religious mother, Margaret, she has little understanding of the everyday normality of a teenager until one day when an embarrassing incident occurs in the showers and she is teased cruelly by her fellow pupils. Teacher, Miss Desjardin disciplines those students to highest order. Angry and embarrassed the offending students become determined to have revenge against Carrie during a pivotal moment of any teenager’s life, the school Prom. Things go horribly wrong though when Carrie’s strange mental powers finally come to brim. Suddenly this memorable night could be their very last…
I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Sissy really did make the role her known. She brought her own gentle spin to the character of Carrie and even gave her some true heart and soul, so much so we are rooting for her, not just in the beginning but even in the more macabre of moments. You know the true strength of an actor? When they can have your compassion and belief. Even when they become the meaner party; that takes a specific type of magic.
All the actors lent something to the ’76 movie but it was Sissy alone that really made that movie work, without her, the movie might only have been half right as such she makes the movie 100% complete.
With that said and done, I like the woven stories. Alternating between Carrie’s life at school and her domineered life at home, we really get into the psyche of why Carrie becomes the way she does.
It’s rather sad to see that both home and school life is plagued by torment and you feel incredibly for this shy, retiring girl. I more than anyone could understand that loneliness, fear and isolation of being alone, details not withstanding, I felt strongly for her character throughout the film and that helped me understand the depth of her character. Truly Sissy was perfect for this role.
The great counterbalance to Sissy was Piper Laurie as Mrs. White; Carrie’s dominating and religiously fanatically mother. To make such a loathsome character seem so real without making the character rather cartoonist is a great actress who has a lot to offer. That insane nature she embodied, believing every moment of what she spoke, it takes a great actress to breathe life into such a creation and drag us along for the ride. I honestly have nothing but respect for Laurie for bringing such a character to being and truly pulling in a dark role.
Being the first king to movie adaptation this would show how the crossover could work/ not work but in the hands of Brian De Palma, the director, it works. He knew how to make the book come into life without pushing boundaries and that’s where his magic comes into focus.
One of the key factors was the score to Carrie:
I liked it. It was not the usual fodder I am rather accustomed to but more in depth and more chilling to the edge of the ear. Those screechy interludes, that haunting melodramatic tune when Carrie wreaks havoc at the prom. It all plays nicely into the movie and adds another layer of darkness.
Carrie itself was a surprise of a movie if not for one thing. Throughout much of the movie we don't see much blood or bloody deaths, it is tame and rather gentle. Then the prom comes and bang! Deaths a plenty and some are not nice at all. They can be squeamish, the blood is redder than red and some of the kills are very inventive. It pushes itself into darker areas in the last reel of the movie and works so well for it.
Those little nudges of cinematography were beautiful, nothing more needs saying.
For the finale of Carrie it is has intense as it can get. The school realising their mistake in belittling Carrie in bringing her to her lowest, her mother realising their is only so much you can put on a child before they snap. Those two conclusives work incredibly well. Especially the final showdown between Mrs. White and Carrie, it's well acted, versed and culimates in a shocking last moment. What happens to Carrie, it is hard pressed not to feel painfully sorry for a character as we have been with her throughout.
The final little twist in Carrie was both smart and admittedly unexpected at the time and even now it garners a jump from me. From a lover of the book it is safe to say I also adore the film as it manages to be true to the movie. A movie that can hit close to home but is an entertaining, disturbing and great movie with some wonderful actors who bring a lot to the role, I recommend this movie to fans and even non fans of Stephen King adaptations.
It's proof his movies can be done well in the right hands. Absolutely brilliant!
Razor blade kisses from Willow's backhand Girl,