Carrie (1976)

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.


Dir. Brian DePalma, 1976

In the nearly four decades since it was released, Carrie has gone from low-budget lark to breakout hit to part of the classic cinema canon. Perhaps I should have kept this knowledge out of my mind when I watched this film for the first time, but I couldn’t, and came out sorely disappointed.

Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) is a girl being raised by a single mother with a horrific concept of Christianity. When she has her belated first period, she’s mocked relentlessly by her peers, causing two of the students (Amy Irving and William Katt) to cheer her up by taking her to the prom, while her biggest tormentor (Nancy Allen) plots to embarrass her at the same event. Meanwhile, Carrie’s newfound womanhood seems to extend beyond the normal– she’s also become telekinetic. The result is the now-famous bloodbath of a third act, from which only one character escapes.

Though the horror is still devastatingly effective, and director Brian De Palma nicely integrates some levity into what comes before, the majority of the film is muddled and reeks of campy after-school specials, which as a concept were only a few years old at the time. The two “good characters” played by Irving and Katt turn out to be doing the right thing, but their motives for helping Carrie are initially ambiguous, especially to someone who knows how the film will end (read: everyone). I seemed to be the only person who didn’t like this, but so be it. C