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« Vikander has Tomb Raider Fever | Main | United 93, ten years on »
Thursday
Apr282016

April Showers: Carrie

In April Showers, Team TFE looks at our favorite waterlogged moments in the movies. Here's Kieran Scarlett on Carrie (1976).

Brian de Palma’s horror classic Carrie has scenes at both the beginning and the end in which our heroine, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) gets clean. Because of what happens between those scenes, they take on very different meanings. When we first see Carrie White, she is diffident and beleaguered—whether at home with her mother Margaret’s (Piper Laurie) stentorian declarations of fanatical Christian values or at school with the focused torment of her peers. It’s very clear that Carrie has internalized the harsh words of Chris Hargensen (Nancy Allen):

That nod Carrie gives is almost as if to say "I know, I know..."

Carrie’s post-PE shower during the opening credits is one of a green girl, lost in the relaxing escape from her life the hot water is briefly providing...

Then, as the calm is interrupted by her first period and the panic ensues, she desperately reaches out for help. She’s not only ignorant of what’s happening to her, but in this moment she’s so naïve as to think this particular group of girls—the same girls who have taken endless pleasure in making her feel small—would ever be of any real assistance. And of course it backfires horribly.

Despite the horror that eventually befalls Carrie and all the other prom attendees, it’s still lovely on every re-watch to see her blossom and come into her own before the pig’s blood is dropped. Even knowing that it’s all predicated essentially on the luxuriously permed Sue Snell (Amy Irving) cajoling the equally luxuriously permed Tommy Ross (William Katt) into escorting Carrie to the prom, it’s still beautiful.

Their orchestrated courtship does walk a fine line and it’s not exactly clear whether Tommy is indeed falling (even if it’s just a little) for the freckle-faced outcast. Carrie stands up to her mother, goes shopping for the right fabric and the right accessories to complete her look, coming out of her shell just a little bit and on her own terms.

That’s what’s so jarring about the pig’s blood and the massacre that follows. It’s all going so well up until this point and it seems that Carrie has turned a corner.

Well, she has.

It is now that I’m forced to say that the official position of this blog is not to advocate telekinetically slaying your enemies. However, Carrie stands up for herself. She lets it be known that fucking with Carrie White will no longer be a privilege enjoyed without consequence. As Chris and Billy (John Travolta) speed towards her in Billy’s car, trying to run her down, with a brief but pointed “guess again, bitch” look, Carrie lets them know what time it is as well.

So, Carrie arrives home covered in blood and, much like in the beginning, she cleans herself. But unlike the shower she took in gym class, this Carrie is no longer naïve. She knows the exact origins of the blood she's scrubbing off this time. She’s no longer living in denial of her powers. She’s sad, but she’s not afraid. She has seen a lot and she’s not afraid to fight back. Woe unto the next person who tries to start something with Carrie White. Even if that person happens to be family...

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Reader Comments (5)

Sissy Spacek is an ageless goddess!
That pig blood scene is practically a shower unto itself, no matter how horrifying.

April 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterCraver

Kieran -- i love that you have to preface the finale with us not condoning telekinetic murder. Haha

April 29, 2016 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Nathaniel - Sorry, but in Chris and Billy's case, I'll have to make an exception for myself.

Sissy Spacek's death stare is everything!

April 29, 2016 | Unregistered CommenterRobMiles

Such a classicand that remake totally missed the point.Sissy IS Carrie Forever

April 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commentermark

Nancy Allen seen outside of RoboCop is always strange for me.

April 29, 2016 | Unregistered Commenter/3rtful

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