“Carrie” is a story that perfectly encapsulates Stephen King’s storytelling style: it’s cautionary, it’s gruesome, and it’s supremely suspenseful.
The film, directed by Brian De Palma, is based on the Stephen King book of the same name and stars Sissy Spacek as the titular Carrie White, a high school student who gets bullied by both students and teachers, and Piper Laurie as her mother Margaret. The film starts with Carrie, who is incredibly sheltered, receiving her first period and freaking out. This incident causes her classmates to bully her even further and tease her for having no knowledge of periods. She goes home and confronts her mother about not informing her about periods. Margaret begins to physically and verbally abuse Carrie, forcing her to recite faulty Bible verses and locking her in a torture closet. Carrie soon begins to develop telekinetic powers with unknown origin. As the movie’s events unfold, she becomes increasingly more and more bullied and her abilities become stronger and stronger. Her classmate Sue Snell asks her boyfriend to ask Carrie to the prom as penance for bullying her, and Carrie, overjoyed at the prospect of going to the prom, accepts. Margaret scolds Carrie and attempts to get her to forget about the prom, calling her “sinful,” but Carrie retaliates and attacks her mother, restraining her with her psychic abilities. She and her date Tommy go, and Carrie feels joy for probably for the first time in her life, but her happiness is short-lived. She becomes the subject of a horrible prank by her rival at school who douses her in pig’s blood after Carrie wins prom queen, setting off her infinite rage and inciting the famous prom scene from the movie. Carrie returns home and is attacked by her mother, she defends herself, and ends up killing her mother. As punishment, she brings their house down on top of them, killing herself.
“Carrie” is the first film that was adapted from a Stephen King story and it is easily one of the best adaptations of King’s work. De Palma takes a very Italian approach to direction and cinematography in the vein that he takes everything over the top. Carrie’s telekinetic powers are synced up with dissonant violin attacks, similar to “Psycho,” in a manner that many moviegoers today would most likely find ridiculous. He exaggerates everything to the point that the suspense created in the film is only enhanced. Everyone knows the climax of the movie and it’s just a matter of pushing it off until the very last second.
The film also demonstrates an excellent use of characterization. Carrie feels very much like an extension of her mother. You can see how Carrie moves as an evolution of Margaret’s overly pompous style. Carrie’s more reserved nature is because of Margaret’s controlling hand.
If you have never seen “Carrie,” it is an extreme recommend. If older films are not your bucket of pig’s blood, the 2013 remake serves the same purpose and focus as the original. “Carrie” receives a A-plus.