Sisters (1973)

SPOILER ALERT: As these reviews are of an academic nature, they may contain spoilers. Those that do feature this warning. Future reviews will try to limit spoilers for a public audience, but until then, read at your own risk.

Sisters

Dir. Brian DePalma, 1973

If nothing else, Sisters is a cracking homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1950s prime. Nowhere is this more clear than in the first act of the film: the rich colours, the score by Bernard Hermann, the decoy hero, and a crime witnessed from the real protagonists rear window.

In Sisters, Margot Kidder plays a former Siamese twin who previously lost her sister after she became impregnated by their doctor. After losing her emotionally disturbed counterpart, Kidder starts to become her from time to time, resulting in the murder of one of her suitors. When reporter Jennifer Salt sees the murder, the cops take too long and the evidence has been cleaned up. Undaunted, Salt begins investigating the crime herself, but is hypnotized into believing she saw nothing. At the end, the bad guys are caught, and Salt is believed by everyone…except herself.

What distinguishes Sisters from Hitchcock is two things. Made after the abandonment of the Hays Code, the murder scene is much more graphic than it would have been a decade earlier, and the viewer’s sense of dread is far more heightened. More unusual are two setpieces in the film’s third act: the hypnosis scene, where various characters appear randomly in the protagonist’s own psyche, and again at the end; when the final piece of evidence lies unremarked upon, except by a cow. If nothing else, the film’s ending is reminiscent of David Lynch, whose first feature film Eraserhead was released just four years after this. B+

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