Review of Carrie (1976)

Dir. Brian De Palma; Starring Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, William Katt
Currently on Rotten Tomatoes Top 100 Horror Movie List
*May contain spoilers*

Carrie has a special place in horror film history. Not only has every horror fan heard of this 1970s classic, but it was the first movie adaptation ever made of a Stephen King story. As we all know today, you can barely swing a stick without hitting a Stephen King film/television adaptation (and for good reason, if you ask me).

If you haven’t seen it, Carrie centers around a telekinetic young woman named Carrie White (Spacek), who not only lives in an abusive household with her mentally unstable mother, Margaret (Laurie), but also deals with a brutal amount of bullying at school. The plot itself consists of Carrie learning how to use her telekinetic powers while her fellow students prepare for the senior prom.

This movie captures what it means to be a Stephen King story. The biggest praise for Stephen King is that his characters are all everyday people. Carrie is just a teenage girl with an abusive, religious zealot of a mother. The other students are typical high school students, who pick on the weird girl. Carrie discovers her telekinetic powers and, when provoked, uses them for revenge. If this isn’t an anti-bullying story for the ages, I don’t know what is. Don’t pick on the weird girl. You’ll regret it.

The use of imagery in this movie is powerful. A major image in this film is the statue of a bleeding, crucified Jesus, at which Carrie is forced to stare whenever her mother locks her in the closet for sinning. This icon sticks with Carrie throughout the film, creating an air of oppression and punishment. Blood is another powerful image that surrounds Carrie wherever she goes. Blood causes Carrie nothing but pain and suffering and, eventually, leads to her eventual provocation.

Carrie isn’t the type of film that’s designed to make you jump. Instead of going for the traditional jump scares associated with modern horror, the director decided to let Carrie White’s story create that air of horror. Not only do we, the audience, feel bad for Carrie and the way she’s treated, we also start to fear her as the movie progresses. We see how she’s tortured both at school and at home; we see how she develops her powers; and we see how it all drives her crazy. We know that she’s going to snap at some point – nobody can endure that much bullying without lashing out at least once – and this knowledge is what keeps the audience on the edge of their seat. This knowledge is what makes Stephen King such a genius.

Carrie is so well done, with an amazing cast, and will leave you with chills. If you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend you rectify this situation.

Let me know what you think in the comments.


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