Anyone coming to this movie expecting an all-out Horror, stay away, unless you’re interested in something that is just a little deeper than your average supernatural thriller. Excepting the final (and horrific) fifteen minutes of the film, Carrie is – in all honesty – a film about human nature. Beneath all the telekenisis and religious folly that creates the spring-board for the story, the beauty in this film is the way it explores attitudes and opinions in society, and the different ways that they affect different people. There’s Carrie; the quiet, keeps-to-herself type, who is not exactly against religion, but despises her mother for forcing her to pray for things that simply aren’t sins. There’s Mrs White; heavily religious, one might even say obsessively so, and hiding a secret about her past. Also, there are the typical teens Tommy, Sue, Billy and Chris; all believe in having a good time no matter what the cost.
It is when these separate groups of different people merge and are pitted against each-other that Carrie shines. As the title character, Sissy Spacek is devine, and the audience is immediately drawn to her quiet beauty and thoughtful nature, no matter how bizarre she at first appears. Pino Donaggio’s score is both haunting and beautiful, but at the same time unusually peaceful for a horror movie. It seems to be warning us that now, when it’s daylight, and Carrie is still in her shell, we are safe. But we aren’t to feel too safe, because at any moment she might snap.
The rest of the characters are also perfectly-cast, in particular Margaret White, whose doom-laden ramblings are particularly disturbing. Nancy Allen is wonderful as the spoilt brat Chris, and her character is truly hateable, as is John Travolta in his debut role.
Brian de Palma’s direction gives the movie a feel of claustrophobia, as the walls around Carrie herself at first begin to move away from her, until they come crashing back to trap her. de Palma cleverly spends as much time lingering on characters (i.e simply having two characters talking) to give an impression of who they are and what they mean to Carrie. Particularly memorable is the scene at the prom (as Sue Snell slowly follows the rope to find its source), which was shot in slow-motion, and gives an almost unbearable amount of tension as the audience knows what is surely to come.
The ending is a tragedy in so many ways. Carrie going mad and ultimately causing her own demise and the demise of her mother is heart-breaking to watch, and as each of the people that ever tried to help her end up either dead or raving mad, the film is left at a very low and morbid point, as if commenting (as before) on society and how it can wreck lives.
A classic and original book turned into a classic and original movie! Carrie is a smart and emotional shocker that is brilliant in many aspects. Definitely one to see if you haven’t already.