Review by Trylon volunteer David Berglund.
All things considered, it is no wonder MGM opted to remake Carrie this year. Not only is Stephen King’s novel a heralded American classic in a nation obsessed with the horror genre, but Brian De Palma’s previous 1976 adaptation of the novel is so unique in its tonal oddities that there could be no way additional adaptations could detract from its place in film history. This is not to say the American film industry has reverence for film history in considering new projects, but rather that the tonal shifts of De Palma’s adaptation allowed room, and a possible perceived desire, for a more straightforward telling of the tale. Simply put, De Palma’s Carrie is so distinctly his own that it will always stand apart from additional adaptations.
Highlighted by the contrasting performances of Piper Laurie’s wonderfully theatrical Margaret White and Sissy Spacek’s meekly timid Carrie, the film’s surreal tonal leaps imbue the film an unsettling sense of fragility. Viewers are not simply on edge due to the increasing suspense of the plot, but because De Palma does not provide clear footing from which to process the film. Is the film a teen comedy? Is it spiritual horror? Is it a cautionary tale? Is it a revenge flick? De Palma infuses aspects of all these stories, and by doing so creates an exciting and dizzying experience that mirrors the unreasonable and insane mood swings of adolescence. Let’s face it–even without telekinesis, high school was horrifying; with it, it is a downright nightmare.
David Berglund is a proud Longfellow resident and ardent cinema junkie who previously wrote on film with his wife, Chelsea Berglund, on their Movie Matrimony blog.