Fright Fest Review #31: Carrie (1976)

One bloodbath deserves another.

Subgenre:  Thriller

Summary:  A victimized high school girl uses her telekinetic powers to get revenge on her tormentors.

Review:  Carrie begins with its protagonist cowering in the shower of the girls’ locker room, naked and afraid, having just gotten her first period.  It’s a deeply uncomfortable image, one that’s heightened by the shrill laughter of Carrie’s peers.  Things aren’t much better at home; she’s constantly abused and scolded by her religious nutjob of a mother, whose twisted parenting has left her socially inept.  When well-meaning classmate Sue asks her boyfriend to take Carrie to the prom, she has no idea about the cruel prank that queen bee Chris has planned.  And no one, save for her mother, knows about Carrie’s long-hidden telekinetic powers.

Though Carrie’s supernatural aspects are ostensibly the reason for its horror status, equally disturbing is its depiction of the all-too-real living hell that high school can be.  The scenes of Carrie’s endless abuse at the hands Chris and her friends are as brutal as they are believable, and perfectly capture the kind of vicious bullying unique to teenage girls.

Like Session 9 and May, Carrie is a movie whose first two thirds exist to build to its climax, and the famous prom scene does not disappoint.  Even though its conclusion is now common knowledge, Brian De Palma does an excellent job of lulling the audience into a false sense of security, and the moments before that famous spill are expertly, excruciatingly drawn out.  And though Carrie’s rampage is terrifying to watch, there’s no denying the savage catharsis that comes from seeing her get her long-awaited revenge.

The Verdict:  Anchored by Sissy Spacek’s masterful performance, Carrie is still scary after all these years.  I give it eight-and-a-half premeditatedly pranked prom princesses out of ten.

That’s a wrap on the Fast and Fentress October Fright Fest – hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  Stay tuned for the upcoming Fright Fest Awards.

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