Halloween Horrors: 'Carrie' (1976) by Brian De Palma Review: A question of morality and use of power


It has been a long, long time since I last did this, maybe even over a year at this point, but my love for Halloween has remained. It's a bit harder to stick to the schedule of attempting to watch a horror each day, especially reviewing them as well: currently sick, constantly tired, and I have my own production schedule this month, too.

That said, I'll be attempting to write about as many as I can still! Starting with the 1976 film, and Stephen King adaptation, of Carrie.

As is the case with most films adapted to the big screen, Carrie certainly breathes the usual tones and pacing you'd expect, with its obscure story in which characters suffer from broken families and otherworldly forces that inevitably results in catastrophe and more suffering.

These narratives from King often take a page from reality, where the fragility of man's own mind can be explored: the ways in which the highly religious may react and cause even more pain and suffering as a result of their misunderstanding of the unknown can be seen even in Carrie. These films often display our minds and reactions as the more dangerous threat to society.

Carrie, a teenage girl in high school, is carrying the immense emotional weight of simply wanting to fit in and be accepted among her students. She's rather different to the rest, and perceived as a loner. Her life a social outcast serves as the foundation to a larger issue: Carrie has the ability to move things with her mind, a talent that has been heavily sheltered by her highly religious mother, which perceives this talent as nothing more than evil.

The film takes on a slow pace as it shows us the lonesome life of Carrie White. Her desperate want to be accepted, and her want to escape from the sheltered life she lives with her mother. Though what we see is the painfully oblivious and fragile ticking time-bomb falling victim to endless exploitation and total lack of support. It becomes blatant that upcoming events may lead to utter chaos as a result of her powers.

For a film set in the 70s, Carrie falls victim to the typical tropes of the era: actors playing the parts of teenagers despite blatantly being in their 30's, high school social statuses, cinematography that focuses on close-up visuals to seem more daunting. This isn't to say that those are negatives of the film, but that it's understandable that many might not enjoy the film as a result.

That said, I personally rather enjoyed the art direction and cinematography. It relied on slower visuals and the use of colour and sound to amplify Carrie's slow decent into madness. One could even make the joke that Carrie White begins a transition into Carrie Red as the colours and tones begin to shift. Her eyes beginning to almost pop from her skull and take on an almost automated form of movement as her powers begin to become more and more out of her control.

The question as to whether Carrie is evil is up to the viewer. Her actions seeming fair and inevitable as a result of the bullying she's experienced. Once could make the argument that her powers are even a fair defence that protects her from the more genuine evils of the world: humans and the way they treat each other.

Comments 9

for @namiks

05.10.2019 15:30

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05.10.2019 15:30

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05.10.2019 15:30

Carrie is the ultimate revenge story!

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05.10.2019 17:08

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Great look at a classic Brian DePalma film. I've yet to see the remake that came out a couple years back...worth seeing, or worth forgetting?

And The Rage: Carrie 2 never happened. Remember that. :)

06.10.2019 02:40

I've not seen the remake either, but really, what could top early De Palma?

09.10.2019 16:06

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09.10.2019 08:02

Speaking as someone who was bullied a lot in middle school/high school, I am pro-Carrie all the way! Carrie is a goddess. Although it was sad that she killed the gym teacher who tried to help her.

09.10.2019 16:05

You can't trust gym teachers ;>)
I might not have been bullied much, aside from constant comments because of my ears but I can easily relate to Carrie too, although she takes things a little too far...

16.10.2019 14:43