"Carrie" veers dangerously close to exploitation at times (de Palma sure likes his jailbait), but still manages to be a chilling and effective study of interrupted innocence, the horrors of high school hierarchy and the psychological effects of menstruation. The cast of young thespians bring believability and charisma to their roles, but Sissy Spacek certainly comes out on top. She distills the emotional maelstroms of adolescence in one perfectly calibrated performance, running through anxiousness, fear, hate, love and blossoming confidence.
The story is well-known so there is no need to rehash it here. The climax is oft-imitated but remains powerful and chilling.
The main problem I had with this film was the broad symbolism of having Carrie's mother die like St. Sebastian. It seemed to me that de Palma was aiming for some general theme of religious imagery here, but this particular image didn't really *mean* anything. In fact, I thought the whole Piper Laurie performance was ridiculous - an over-the-top, implausible performance in a scarily plausible role.