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Carrie (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on February 5, 2012

Seeing Piper Laurie while binging on “Twin Peaks” last month put me in the mood to revisit this.  It’s been 10-11 years or so since the last time, although it was a favorite in my youth.  Seeing it now, even though I was looking forward to it, I was surprised by how good it is.  Parts that I had remembered as just corny and dumb now strike me as deliberately schmaltzy, especially when the world is seen through Carrie’s eyes in her few moments of happiness.  The entire prom sequence is really a masterwork of establishing a tone and then completely flipping it.  It’s an amazing progression of tension and horror.  De Palma loves his split screens, and this may be his finest use of them.  When that line first appears to separate the screen, it’s like a knife cutting through you.  It’s a brilliantly edited, unforgettable scene.

What’s most interesting after having not seen it for many years is how much humor there is in it.  There’s so many little comic moments in it, most notably Laurie’s glorious, over-the-top performance.  But there’s also Nancy Allen as Chris the twisted queen bee, or William Katt’s goofy golden boy, and a bunch of other funny touches.  Not all of it works (the tuxedo scene needs to go entirely) but most of it does, whether it’s intentional black comedy or just the product of a kind of 70’s earnestness.  And I also think it’s one of the better American films about adolescence, not at all a bad commentary on religious fanaticism, and a pretty damn good revenge tale (in a dual sense: Chris’s revenge and Carrie’s).  The musical score is 90% great too, and a lot of the cinematography is quite stunning.

I wish I liked any other De Palma as much as this, but there are still a few notable ones I have yet to see.  Rating: Great


One Response to “Carrie (rewatch)”

  1. […] 39. Carrie (1976, Brian De Palma) […]

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