MAGIC ACTS AND PRODUCT DEMONSTRATERS used to be the only things that amazed me when I was small. I would always become mesmerized by magicians performing things my eyes and brain could not believe. Making animals appear or disappear, cutting assistants in half or shooting flames out of extended hands; all of it was a total fantasy for me. As for those product demonstrators, I still can recall standing at the head of a small crowd of people gathered around a table as a man was talking about an amazing product that would prevent eyeglasses from steaming up. He would extend his hand out and slightly up just above his head while holding a pair of glasses and spray the lenses with this mysterious stuff. Next he would hold the glasses over what looked like a vaporizer that was spewing out steam. Miraculously the lenses never fogged up. It was pure magic to me. Anytime I was at a store and heard one of these demonstrators talking, I would make a beeline to them and wiggle my way to the head of the crowd of shoppers to watch the next magical feat being performed. MY AMAZEMENT OF THINGS HAS expanded as much as I have aged. Every day it seems I hear or see something that stops me in disbelief. I cannot recall a time where so many things happening around the world literally stun me. Gratefully not everything is of a horrific nature; there are some acts that are life changers and I mean that in a good way. Just imagine what it must have been like when the first microwave oven came into existence or when we had the first moon landing. I am sure it had to be a “heady” experience for many people. Sadly it seems to me currently the scale is tipping to the negative side more and more. An example that just came to mind is company advertisements that, for whatever reason, wind up having a racist or derogatory message. I believe it was the past week there was an alcohol commercial that looked as if it was making a prejudicial statement about races. Seeing an act of violence like commercial or religious buildings being blown up with innocent people inside just makes me stare at the news, trying to comprehend how such a thing could even be thought up; it simply boggles my mind. Many times I say to myself, “Did that just happen?” This same question crossed the mind of the main character in this horror thriller. FINDING HERSELF COMMITTED TO A mental institution Sawyer Valentini, played by Claire Foy (Breathe, The Crown-TV), could not tell at times if she was facing her biggest fear. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Magic Mike, Erin Brockovich), this movie also starred Jay Pharoah (Ride Along, Get a Job) as Nate Hoffman, Joshua Leonard (If I Stay, The Blair Witch Project) as David Strine, Amy Irving (Carrie, Traffic) as Angela Valentini and Juno Temple (Wonder Wheel, Killer Joe) as Violet. This viewing was somewhat unusual for me. The movie was filmed with the use of an IPhone which made some of the camera shots interesting. I thought Claire was convincing and it was good to see Amy Irving. My issue with this picture has to do with the script. There were several intense scenes within the story, but then all of a sudden everything would go flat. I found myself losing interest because during the film it felt like scenes were being repeated. It was not until close to the end where I got back into the story, though I did not like the way the movie ended. I was amazed this picture was done on an IPhone; too bad it wasn’t better.
The reaction I had to this movie may surprise some of you. This happens to be one of my favorite movies and I will explain why. The first time I saw this film I teared up, because I had a secret in common with Carrie. One of my coping mechanisms when I was being bullied in high school was to imagine the perpetrators being placed in a class room, where I had installed special apparatus that would seal the room. From my vantage point I would visualize a couple of water pipes bursting, slowly filling up the room with ice cold water. As the bullies rose closer to the ceiling I could see the panic on their faces and then they died from drowning. I know for some this sounds macabre, but please understand it always stayed as an imaginary fantasy, giving me the strength to return to school the following day. This is one of the reasons I love Carrie and why I am particularly fond of this dramatic thriller. Nominated for an Oscar for her incredible acting, Sissy Spacek (The Help, Coal Miner’s Daughter) played shy high school student Carrie White. With her intensely religious mother Margaret, played by Piper Laurie (Children of a Lesser God, The Faculty), controlling almost all aspects of Carrie’s life, it was hard for Carrie to make any friends. When a prank was put into play to humiliate Carrie in front of the student body, the tormentors had no idea Carrie had a special gift that would be her coping mechanism. Besides Sissy being nominated for an Oscar, Piper was nominated for supporting actress. Director Brian De Palma (Body Double, The Fury) did justice to this movie based on the Stephen King novel. Helping Brian was a solid supporting cast led by Betty Buckley, Nancy Allen, Amy Irving and John Travolta. This by no means was a typical horror film; it was a well crafted tale of high school–for some.
3 1/4 stars — DVD