Kamis, 09 Juni 2011
Brian De Palma - Sisters (1973)
Sisters is the first Hitchcock homage that Brian De Palma directed, and it’s a doozy. There are scenes in any horror film that put the viewer on edge. Right before the slasher slashes his victim or before the monster eats his prey, a good director will rile us up. Sisters takes Hitchcock’s famous comment that he plays his audience like a fiddle to heart, and De Palma makes the first forty-five minutes of the film feel like anyone on screen is about to get hacked up, if only the bogeyman would jump out of the shadows. While there are films, like 1994’s Mute Witness, that offer a similarly distilled horror show, what’s amazing is that De Palma manages to create the sense of a threat without actually revealing the film as a horror film or showing us much action that’s in any way dangerous. He’s obsessing on details and using his camerawork to underline certain dialogue so that we know there must be a point to it all. Obviously, this narrative device has been lifted from Psycho, but it’s almost one-upped here since Sisters relies on fewer red herrings and is more up-front that we’re being teased, turning the passing of time without incident into a game instead of a frustration. The events that actually happen in the first half of the movie are so mundane that the suspense feels illogical even as it mounts, and as a result, it has a giddying effect. You know that the director is setting things up, and you can’t wait for the punch line to rear its head. It’s almost a shame that it has to end and launch the film’s plot properly.
* Ironically, I looked up Kael's review of Sisters after posting this and noticed that she actually gave it a negative notice! How funny that I appreciate the things here that she loved in his more recent films, and I found a lot of the same stuff tiresome in those later works... Oh well...
--- Jeremy Heilman, MovieMartyr