Carrie (1976)

The Halloween Countdown Day 19

Carrie is available to rent or buy now.

It wouldn’t be a Halloween Countdown without Stephen King, and we have several adaptations to share with you as we near the 31st of October. The first of these is Carrie, Stephen King’s first widely published novel in 1973. However, Carrie White would not only give birth to Stephen King’s career in print, but she would also prove to be his cinematic debut in the hands of Brian De Palma in 1976. Therefore, when exploring Stephen King’s book to film adaptations, there is no better place to start. After all, this is the film that introduced Stephen King to the world.

Brian De Palma’s Carrie is a faithful adaptation of King’s material, its final scenes, the only significant divergence from King’s work. However, King couldn’t have been more pleased with De Palma’s creative license, famously stating that De Palma’s conclusion improved upon the book. Carrie is often viewed as a classic slice of supernatural horror; however, here, King and De Palma not only play with the horror of teenage life but religious extremism, bullying and hate. The result is far more complex than Carrie is often given credit for, with many opting to focus purely on the supernatural horror of the story rather than its deep social discussions. But, in essence, De Palma’s movie is a journey into isolation, family trauma and teenage anxiety, a coming of age story with a horrific conclusion.


Carrie’s horror is laced with themes of bodily change, sex, bullying, abuse and religion; its story never allowing for simplistic good versus evil cliches. Here De Palma ensures the focus remains on Carrie White throughout, allowing the audience to build empathy and love for a character who ultimately causes death and destruction. Despite its horrific final act, Carrie remains the victim throughout; her community, peer group and abusive mother, the real villains of the piece.

Carrie reflects the pain of adolescence more astutely and powerfully than many films that claim to be coming-of-age dramas. While at the same time reflecting the true horror of child abuse, bullying and mental illness. The result is undoubtedly one of the finest horrors of the 20th Century. Often copied but never bettered, Carrie is a journey into the pain one girl keeps locked away and the uncontrollable anger it breeds. The horror of teenage life and the volatile emotions she attempts to hide, laid bare for all to see.