Not during the end of the prom scene, of course, cause that isn’t a time for crying. A time for screaming and yelling and freaking out, maybe, but not for crying.
It’s earlier in the prom that I tear up a bit. When the music is all sweet and the lights are all soft and Tommy Ross’s hair is particularly poofy and Carrie’s face is particularly young and naïve and she’s talking about remembering this night forever and Tommy wants to take her out with the rest of the cool kids after the dance and it’s all so dang nice and adorable and romantic and destined to end very VERY badly.
Every time I watch my eyes tear up, my nose gets a bit sniffly, and I have to reach for the tissue. It’s that moment that all of us that got picked on in high school kind of wished for.
Of course when we realized we weren’t going to be accepted by the cool kids, it was the OTHER prom scene we wished for. The bloody, screamy, scary, nasty prom scene.
But I digress.
The plot of Carrie basically breaks down like this: Carrie (Sissy Spacek) is quiet and shy and bad at volleyball and all the kids at school treat her like garbage. After a particularly cruel event in the girls’ showers the cool chicks are all in trouble and Carrie is beginning to discover she isn’t just a timid little mouse hiding in the shadows. Soon she’s going head-to-head with her insanely religious mother, finding a poofy-headed date for the prom, and stepping out of her comfort zone in order to fit in with the rest of the crowd. Unfortunately for Carrie, the entire senior class, and the janitorial staff of the high school in charge of cleaning up the dance afterward, this is a horror film based on a Stephen King novel and events at the prom go horribly, messily wrong.
Carrie is a scary movie, so let’s talk about what’s scary about it. The horrible way the other kids treat the main character? It certainly sucks, and it’s sad that people would treat other people that way, but it’s not particularly scary. Carrie’s telekinetic powers? They’re interesting and they certainly do a lot of damage when she lets them go, but are they scary? In a day and age where superheroes are ubiquitous and telekinesis is one of the tamer super powers, it just doesn’t do much to surprise or terrify.
But Carrie’s mother … oooohhh Carrie’s mother. If there was one element of this film that could truly be considered scary, that’s the one I’d name. Played beautifully by Piper Laurie, Carrie’s mom is fanatically religious and also fanatically anti-everything in the world that might help Carrie fit in. She doesn’t explain the facts of life to her daughter, so of course when puberty happens Carrie suffers for it. She doesn’t want her daughter associating with anyone, not other girls or boys with poofy hair. The idea of Carrie going to the prom is laughable, and when Carrie refuses to see it the same way, it doesn’t end well for anyone. After watching this film I bet a lot of people would agree that no matter how strict or crazy or bizarre their parents are, they aren’t anywhere near as bad as Carrie’s mom.
The end of the prom scene could probably be classified ‘scary’ as well. All those kids running and screaming and trying to escape the gymnasium and none of them understanding what is going on or why the door won’t open or a fire hose is spraying them or why people are dying all around them. That certainly wasn’t the freaky wild time any of them were expecting (or if they were there was something really wrong with those kids) when they put on their frilly tuxedos and pastel dresses that evening. But like so many stories by Stephen King (and the good movies based on them) it isn’t so much the big in your face stuff like Tommy and his poofy hair being killed by a bucket or sympathetic gym teacher being almost chopped in half by a falling fixture that truly scares here. It is the little things that get you. Like sweet little Carrie White, who just wanted a place to belong, now covered in animal blood and starting her classmates on fire. Like a group of teenagers huddled together trying to escape across the floor, desperately afraid to let each other go in all the chaos that surrounds them. Like those two idiots who caused the whole commotion, sitting in a window to watch their handiwork and realizing their nasty, mean prank turned into a nasty, mean, bloodbath (literally).
– Mia V.
Starring Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving, William Katt, John Travolta, Nancy Allen
Directed by Brian De Palma
Written by Stephen King (novel), Lawrence D Cohen (screenplay)
Watch on ThisTV: Tuesday 11/4 at 1pm, Thursday 11/13 at 7pm, Friday 11/21 at 3pm, Saturday 11/22 at midnight, and/or Monday 11/24 at 3pm!