Critics Consensus

Carrie is a horrifying look at supernatural powers, high school cruelty, and teen angst -- and it brings us one of the most memorable and disturbing prom scenes in history.



Total Count: 63


Audience Score

User Ratings: 352,835
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Movie Info

This classic horror movie based on Stephen King's first novel stars Sissy Spacek as Carrie White, a shy, diffident teenager who is the butt of practical jokes at her small-town high school. Her blind panic at her first menstruation, a result of ignorance and religious guilt drummed into her by her fanatical mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie), only causes her classmates' vicious cruelty to escalate, despite the attentions of her overly solicitous gym teacher (Betty Buckley). Finally, when the venomous Chris Hargenson (Nancy Allen) engineers a reprehensible prank at the school prom, Carrie lashes out in a horrifying display of her heretofore minor telekinetic powers. Many films had featured school bullies, but Carrie was one of the first to focus on the special brand of cruelty unique to teenage girls. Carrie's world is presented as a snake pit, where the well-to-do female students all have fangs -- even the reticent Sue Snell (Amy Irving) -- and all the males are blind pawns, sexually twisted around the fingers of Chris and her evil cronies. The talented supporting cast includes John Travolta, P.J. Soles, and William Katt. One of the genre's true classics, the film was followed by a sequel in 1999, as well as by a famously unsuccessful Broadway musical adaptation that starred Betty Buckley, the movie's gym teacher, as Margaret White. ~ Robert Firsching, Rovi

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Sissy Spacek
as Carrie White
Piper Laurie
as Margaret White
John Travolta
as Billy Nolan
Amy Irving
as Sue Snell
William Katt
as Tommy Ross
Betty Buckley
as Miss Collins
Nancy Allen
as Chris Hargensen
Sidney Lassick
as Mr. Fromm
P.J. Soles
as Norma Watson
Sydney Lassick
as Mr. Fromm
Stefan Gierasch
as Mr. Morton
Doug Cox
as The Beak
Harry Gold
as George
Cameron de Palma
as Boy On Bicycle
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News & Interviews for Carrie

Critic Reviews for Carrie

All Critics (63) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (59) | Rotten (4)

Audience Reviews for Carrie

  • Oct 27, 2018
    So, of course, no real annual horror fest would be complete without some sort of offering from the master of horror himself, Stephen King. Wait, what's that? You mean to tell me that I've already done this same exact intro, word for word, already? Well...this is awkward. Now what do I do for an intro??? In all seriousness, however, this is the first film adaptation based on a King book. Carrie, of course, was also Stephen King's first published novel, this movie came out a few years after that and, really, they hit the ground running with this movie. Regardless, before we get to that, I think I should talk about bullying a little bit, at least my own experience with it. I was watching a video on YouTube the other day and this guy was mentioning about how bullying starts with your friends when you were kids. And, really, there's a kernel of truth in what he said. Because, really, I don't wanna call that bullying. I think I'd call that more good-natured roasting. Friends poke fun at each other, that's part of friendship. But, in my opinion, true friendship understands that there's boundaries you don't cross. I don't feel like it's bullying when compared to, say, in the States, where it's sort of an epidemic in schools. Where, say, because of whatever differences there may be, a specific group of people, say the jocks and princesses as an example, make fun of the goths in a mean-spirited manner. Or they pick on kids who are far smaller and are not able to defend themselves, stuffing them into lockers, pushing them on the floor, etc, etc, etc. I think that's the major difference, because, realistically, if a friend uses your own perceived flaws against you in order to make you feel bad then, really, they're not actually your friend, in PSA sentiment. In all seriousness though, this movie, being 42 years old, still probably represents one of the best examples of bullying in films that I have seen in horror. And, considering, that people are more aware regarding these issues, it's a movie that still feels quite relevant even over 40 years after its release. I've always been a person who believes that, until children reach the age where they're able to make their own decisions, the kids should not be taught about religion. If that is something they wish to explore at an age where you feel it's reasonable for them to do so, then that's fine, but not when they're kids, when they're sponges that absorb every little tidbit of information you give them. You are, essentially, indoctrinating that kid to believe what you want and only that. Regardless, that's not as bad as, say, these fanatically religious parents, who emotionally abuse their children into believing that they're sinners and they're going to hell for minor infractions like, as an example, Carrie getting her first period. Carrie's mother, of course, believes this to be a sin and something that Carrie brought on herself. This, to me, is a form of child abuse and it should be treated as such. But, of course, the bible-thumping crowd will say that parents raise their children how they see fit and how the government should not interfere. But, moving on, Carrie is raised, naturally, by a fanatically religious woman and she is bullied at school by the princesses of the school for being 'weird'. Perhaps one of the things that I liked about this movie, and I do not know how this compares to the book, is that its story is simple. Carrie gets her first period while she's showering after gym. Carrie is terrified, as her mother hadn't taught her about this and she feels like she's dying. The rest of the girls mock her for this and they get detention for a week with the PE teacher. The girls need to complete the detention or else they won't be allowed to go to prom. One of the girls, the lead bitch if you will, played by Nancy Allen who was quite lovely in the 70s, decides she's gonna make Carrie pay for what she "did" by pulling an incredibly cruel prank on her at prom. Sue, another one of the girls that made fun of Carrie, feels guilty about this and asks her boyfriend, who's popular and, supposedly, handsome, to ask Carrie to the prom as Sue feels she owes it to Carrie. This is when everything is set into place, when Carrie, unknowingly, seals her own fate. Here's the thing about this movie, I haven't actually seen it in a while, like maybe over a decade and a half now, but I know exactly where it was going. Everyone knows how Carrie ends, even if you only have a cursory knowledge of horror. The prom scene isn't just one of the most memorable scenes in horror, it's one of the most memorable scenes in film history. So, again, even without knowing much about Carrie, you'll know where the ending is headed. And, to me, that knowledge makes everything feel more tragic in the long run. Because, no matter what Carrie does, no matter how hard she tries to be 'normal', to put herself out there, to make friends, she will always end up doing what she ended up doing when the pig's blood was dropped on her after being announced as prom queen. I do think the narrative of Carrie attempting to come out of her shell, even as her abusive mother tries to keep her under her thumb, holds up surprisingly well and it wasn't so much of an issue that the movie isn't as heavy on the horror as one would expect. Another reason why this movie, still, stands the test of time is how great Sissy Spacek is in this role. She's so damn sympathetic in the role, I legitimately felt terrible for the poor girl when the pig's blood was dumped on her. For a girl that was so clearly abused by her mother, emotionally, and bullied, there was something absolutely radiant about her when she did win prom queen and, again, it makes everything that much more tragic, with what she ended up doing at prom, killing everybody with her telekinetic powers. I can't say that I feel bad for those responsible and, of course, the visual of Carrie covered in blood is now iconic. One of the things that most surprises me about this movie is how well its story has held up. And that's probably a testament to the quality of the book and Brian De Palma's strengths as a filmmaker. He was able to find the heart of the character and focus more on making her as strong of a character as possible, while still exploring what made her burst the way she did. I do feel that the narrative all worked towards getting you to that goal and, while I don't want to say that it's a simple narrative, given that Carrie's treatment is layered and shrouded in secrecy in that I'm curious what made her mother act this way towards her, but it's still incredibly satisfying, because everything makes perfect sense and it's excellently paced. I feel like there's nothing that is wasted here, everything seems to serve the same goal of getting us to the climactic scene where Carrie, fed up of the abuse and torment, unleashes the full strength of her powers on her fellow students, even if those students aren't responsible for what happened to her. The visual of Carrie coming out of the building, that is now on fire, the prom is taking place in while agonized screams are heard coming from that building is still quite haunting, even to this day. Carrie, of course, is also almost murdered by her mother, who feels that, as a "witch", she needs to be removed. So Carrie can't even count on her only family, not that she ever could, but, once again, I feel that Carrie's story is more one of tragedy. Carrie, no matter where she turned, could not count on anyone to be there for her. She didn't have any friends, people make fun of her (even one of the teachers goes out of his way to ridicule her) and her mother is a religious nut-bag. She has no one. It's really quite sad, when you think about it. And that's why, to me, this movie stands the test of time, because it's got a strong central character, a great performance from Sissy Spacek and narrative to go along with the horror. So, yea, I guess you could say that I thought this was a great movie and in the top five of the best movies I've watched this month. This might not be a movie that more 'casual' horror fans enjoy, given how outdated it might be to some, but if you're a horror nerd and you haven't seen this then, really, you are doing yourself a disservice. This is a great horror movie and I would EASILY recommend it.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Oct 22, 2016
    With the utmost respect, Carrie seems very much like an exploitation film of the slasher/revenge genre. In another one of the many films that was undoubtedly inspired by Hitchcock's Psycho, a teenager decides to unload her unusual powers on a bunch of unfortunately sour members of her school. One of my problems with many horror films is the loss of grounded characters who are easy to root for. I feel like many films in this genre focus too heavily on the antagonistic presences in the films that they forget to build out likable and realistic main characters. Carrie doesn't necessarily suffer from that particular problem, but it chooses to surround Carrie, a bullied and reserved girl, with stereotypical one-note characters. Sometimes it works, but I will always desire characters with understandable motivations. So even though there is basically no one likable in the story, Carrie succeeds in that it's an important tale of the damage that bullying can do and the lengths that the victim could go to get revenge. With a limited budget, due to it being the first adaptation of Stephen King's work, Brian De Palma does more with less. And even though you pretty much know what's going to happen, the execution is nonetheless very effective. Sissy Spacek kills it, as she did a whole lot in the 70's and 80's. She's complemented by an equally creepily eerie turn by Piper Laurie, who plays her mother. Yikes. Yes, It's definitely dated, but Carrie is a fun product of its time, and a story/message that should be remembered. +Bloody/fiery fun +Exploitive in the best ways -A few too many unlikable characters 7.1/10
    Thomas D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2015
    The only reason I can't give Carrie five stars is because A) it isn't long enough and B) because it frays from the original novel a tad much. Watching Carrie almost forty years after its release is strange as it seems more relevant than ever and so of course they had to bloody remake it, of course they did. Watch the original, it's amazing. Sissy Spacek shines behind wisps of strawberry blonde hair and balances out the campy yet undeniably horrifying performance of Piper Laurie as Carrie's mother, who was deservedly nominated for an Oscar afterwards. The film is noteworthy for its beautifully iconic and startling scenes. It was Stephen King's first published novel, John Travolta's first mainstream role and my first horror film. A true classic.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 03, 2013
    Carrie, a classic tale of horror from Stephen King, is adapted for the big screen by Brian De Palma. However, the film hasn't aged well and doesn't really hold up. The story is rather familiar and will be revisited in King's work again and again; a social outcast develops psychokinetic powers and ends up wreaking revenge upon those that have mistreated her. The acting is mediocre and doesn't give any depth to the characters. And, with the exception of a couple of scenes that have become iconic in horror cinema, De Palma's directing is unremarkable. A poorly paced and morose film, Carrie hasn't withstood the test of time.
    Dann M Super Reviewer

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