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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that although it's far less graphic than other horror movies, this film adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel of the same name does include some fairly intense, emotional scenes of violence, death, and destruction. Carrie's mother is abusive to her and even threatens her life. In the oft-mentioned bloody prom scene Carrie uses her telekinetic powers to massacre everyone out of vengeance for a vicious prank and bullying behavior. A long locker room scene shows girls undressed and a Carrie getting her period, then teased.
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What's the story?
Although it's billed as a horror movie, CARRIE is just as much a poignant story of a bullied, lonely teen. With her stringy hair, mousy appearance and beaten-down posture, Sissy Spacek gives a heartbreaking performance as Carrie, who is tormented by her high school peers and abused and extremely sheltered by her religious-zealot mother. Meanwhile, Carrie struggles to understand the power she has to make objects move with her mind (telekinesis). She experiences a brief period of happiness after a popular boy asks her to the prom and a concerned gym teacher (Betty Buckley) takes Carrie under her wing. But that happiness is short-lived thanks to a cruel prank, and Carrie unleashes her telekinetic powers in an explosive act of revenge.
Is it any good?
This is probably the best film adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Carrie helped launch the careers of several young performers, including Spacek (who received an Oscar nomination), Amy Irving, John Travolta, and Nancy Allen. Almost painful to watch, the opening shots of a volleyball game and the girls' locker room depict the vicious bullying Carrie endures. The climactic prom-night scene begins with a breathless, Cinderella-like feel; the interaction between Carrie and her date, Tommy (William Katt) is sweet and hopeful, and Spacek looks radiant. This scene, however, becomes terrifying after some cruel bullies send Carrie over the edge. Director Brian De Palma's use of a split screen, combined with the music and Spacek's chilling transformation, creates an unforgettable scene of carnage.
Veteran actress Piper Laurie is disturbing in her Academy Award-nominated role as Carrie's holy-rolling, psychotic mother. Buckley's character, Miss Collins, emerges as a protective, encouraging influence; her scenes with Carrie are tender, bittersweet, and sadly futile. But it's Spacek's sensitive portrayal of a troubled girl that elevates this movie beyond mere horror.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the movie handles the issue of bullies and their victims. Does Carrie's school appropriately deal with the students who pick on her? How does this '70s horror movie compare to some of the real bloodbaths you see today? Is it more or less scary and effective?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.