Carrie (1974) is a horror classic

By Farah Bassyouni Oct 30, 2023

With IWU SoTA’s wonderful production of “Carrie: The Musical” coming so close to Halloween, I was inspired to search for the filmed versions and to see if they could live up to the hype and put me in the Halloween mood.

I decided to start with the original 1976 version, because it was the blueprint that many later adaptations drew upon. 

“Carrie (1976)” is an adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same name. Like many of King’s other works, it compels the audience to feel a sense of horror through the characters’ emotions.

In “Carrie,” the story is basically a high school bully trope. The movie follows Carrie’s experience as a shy teenage girl who is bullied by her peers, starting with her humiliating experience of getting her first period in front of other girls.

It then explores how she gradually begins to feel hope and discovers her powers of telekinesis as she rebells against her fanatically religious mother, accepts a popular boy’s date for a prom, and becomes the Prom Queen.

Suddenly, a bucket of pig’s blood spilt on her in front of  the prom attendees  extinguishes her barely-gained precious feelings and causes  her to end up destroying the prom and, later, kill her mother. 

I really enjoyed the artistic elements such as the narrative pacing, slow motions, lighting and sound effects because they do a great job to convey the mood: the darkness inside Carrie’s house; the weirdly apparent red hue in the lighting of the prom scene, the quick and sharp sound effects when Carrie applies her superpower, etc. 

Besides these, however, there are few things “scary” enough to give you a nightmare. A strange but interesting thing to me was that every time I expected something uncomfortable to come up, nothing happened.

It might be because I had been anticipating the story’s progress with the premise that it was a “horror” movie. Indeed, this film is centered around the theme of gender and sexuality: menstrual shame, maternal guidance on female reproductive knowledge, problematic dating, and sexual assault.

That is to say, the primary source of horror in this film is the extremely problematic sexual growth of a teenage girl rather than jump scares or gore.

This special approach to horror, in addition to the well-crafted narrative and aesthetics drove me to initially give “Carrie” an 8.5/10, however, since I was a bit discouraged after expecting some excitingly scary moments, I decided to downgrade it to 7 for this review.

Therefore, if you want to watch something horrific enough for Halloween, involving slashings, ghosts or zombies, this film is definitely not the one you are looking for. However, I recommend this to those who want to enjoy a Halloween movie night without being too afraid to fall asleep,  and those who have watched “Carrie: The Musical”.

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