Monday, 23 October 2017

Thirteen Nights of Halloween Horror | Night Five - Carrie (1976)

image credit: united artists

My love affair with Stephen King’s work is annoying. I’ve only read Carrie, yet I always cite him as my favourite author. It makes me feel bad because there are obviously millions of his fans that have actually read, oh, I don’t know more than one book. But Carrie, man. King’s ability to horrify through words is absolutely astounding. 

King’s fourth novel but first published, Carrie follows titular character Carrie White, an outcast teen who suffers mental and physical both at home and school via her fanatically religious mother and fellow students. Once Carrie hits puberty, she begins to realise and use her unique telekinetic ability, which eventually serves as a weapon against those who have wronged her. 

Brian De Palma adapted the novel to film in 1976, the first adaptation of King’s work. The film follows pretty closely to the book – obviously missing out some aspects – and highlights the horrors of the teenage psyche through the bully and the victim.

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Whenever I become engrossed with a narrative in a novel, I’m always tense when it comes to the adaptation. My mind creates such a distinct vision for the story, it’s hard to try and watch someone else transfer their vision of the story on screen. De Palma matched my minds’ vision perfectly, especially with the casting of Sissy Spacek as Carrie. He directs the film in such a way that allows Carrie’s understanding of her telekinesis to coincide with the main prank against Carrie, carried out by lead bully Chris (Nancy Allen).

A highlight of De Palma’s Carrie is his choice of tense editing, shot and sound design, especially in the aftermath of the prom prank. Once that bucket falls from the rafters onto Carrie, the camera slowly pans over the students witnessing the prank unfold. The sound is completely cut off, with only the echoing drips of blood and clanging of the bucket remaining. This combination demonstrates a masterclass in directing that fully encapsulates the shock of the scene and the shock that Carrie feels herself. 

Now, do I watch the 2013 remake?

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