I came across Jack “Jackula” Shen’s video review of the Brian De Palma movie “Raising Cain” and I had to agree with him that I’ve never been able to tell if it’s a good movie or not. It has a LOT of dumb bits, like the shocker moment where a sudden switch of a TV screen to security camera footage reveals Lolita Davidovich’s character (who is supposed to be dead) staring into the camera with murder in her eyes. “I’m gonna get ya for trying to kill me!” is the obvious meaning. That’s a real shocker. It makes you jump, and it’s well done. And then you give it a moment’s thought and realize that::
- She has no clue where her murdering husband is, which means…
- …she couldn’t possibly know if he was watching the security footage at that exact second, which means…
- …she’s just staring daggers at a camera for no reason and got way lucky.
Yeah, this movie has a lot of that. A lot of blatant foreshadowing, sudden narration, explanations of plot to the viewer and tons of exposition, including a lot of verbal diarrhea by a psychologist that just goes on and on for minutes. And yet (as Jack shows here), that scene is brilliantly done in a continuous 5-minute walk-and-talk that is pulled off in a single take. It ends with a shocking reveal of a drowned woman that is shown to the camera for a solitary second.
Problem is, it’s too quick for the audience to realize the identity of the drowned woman (there have been several). See, the entire conversation leads you to think that the body of Lollita Davidovich has been found, and then the sheet is removed and, if you had the presence of mind and the time to study it, you’d say, “Oh, what a twist. It’s actually the earlier murdered woman.” But we’re talking about the twisted blue corpse of a bedraggled drowned woman glaring in a frightening rictus right into your eyes. You’re too busy wiping up the new stain on your theater chair (or for 99% of America, the couch) to say, “Hey, that was a different woman.” And the two women look a lot alike when they’re not drowned. To make this work, de Palma should have made the first woman African American or 300 pounds, because that’s about the only way he could achieve a shocker AND get that point across in one second.
Just when we’re all ready to write this off as a mediocre shocker with a couple legitimate scares and intelligent twists…Jackula hits on how brilliant this movie is. It’s certainly nothing I’d have ever been able to pick up on, so this review has to be seen. Take it away, Jackula!
(Note: Language warning.)