Upon first glance, you’d think Brian DePalma directing a Stephen King Adaptation would be something disastrous. DePalma has spent most of his early career emulating Hitchcock, and delivering cerebral gems like “Sisters.” It’s a treat though that he ends up becoming one of the most crucial elements of “Carrie” and its adaptation. Because what the director can’t convey through special effects, he conveys through some amazing camera work and editing that still wows me to this day. “Carrie” is easily one of the best horror films, and revenge films ever made. It’s a brilliantly cast and deeply tragic story of a girl whose powers became the judgment day for many cruel individuals who preyed on the innocent.
“Carrie” garners that classic opening where most of the early story is told through pictures and images of a high school, and girls playing sports. What begins as an innocent shower for Carrie White turns in to horror when she obtains her first period. Horrified, the girls in her class take this opportunity to torment her, and torture her as this sudden trauma awakens something within her that she can’t explain. Though Carrie is incapable of striking anyone down, her powers begin to manifest itself and sometimes tend to take on a mind of their own, as they become the instruments of her ultimate revenge allowing her to destroy the people that hurt her without her ever laying a finger on them and striking blood. The telekinesis works to the passivity of Carrie’s personality.
She’s spent much of her time as a submissive and meek individual, so the ability to move things with her mind transforms from a mild revelation to the realization that it can hurt and create chaos that’s lurked within her for years. Were it not for the shower incident, maybe she would never have explore the extent upon which her powers were capable of hurting others. Sissy Spacek gives a wonderful performance as White, a young who inspires hatred from her classmates for reasons she can’t quite understand, and lives with a very religiously fanatical mother who suppresses her curiosities and need for normality. When the girls that hurt Carrie are punished for their deeds and stripped of their privilege of going to prom, they devise a plan to destroy Carrie once and for all. Meanwhile, Sue Snell, one of the girls that hurt Carrie decides to redeem herself by befriending Carrie, and convincing her boyfriend to take Carrie to prom to instill some confidence within her.
The writer delves in to the implication that perhaps Carrie was pure evil from the very start, but just didn’t realize it until she was tormented relentlessly. Her mother’s fanaticism toward keeping Carrie restrained and isolated seems like some kind of foresight, but it’s tough to imagine what the alternative results could have been for Carrie were she normal. Karen Allen and John Travolta are delightfully despicable, reveling in tormenting Carrie, intent on knocking her down no matter what. With DePalma’s brilliant direction, “Carrie” is a terrifying and awe inspiring revenge film, and one that balances drama and the supernatural perfectly, all with an amazing finale. It’s definitely one of my favorite horror films of all time and never fails to compel.