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Sisters (1973) Movie Review

Dedicated to Margot Kidder

Long before Quentin Tarantino ever stepped foot in a video store, Brian de Palma legitimized the fine art of film pastiche. De Palma has garnered a reputation as a Hitchcopycat, but that hardly does the man justice. Sure, the spectre of Hitchcock hangs around much of De Palma's work, but he speaks the Master's language in his own distinct voice. He was the Hitchcock of a more cynical age, expressing far more anger and possessing a frankness that Hitch lacked. Alfred Hitchcock was more elegant, but Brian De Palma was more outrageous. Perhaps the best example of this is Sisters, De Palma's first foray into Hitchcock homage.  

Sisters is the story of Danielle and Dominique, separated conjoined twins. In the grand tradition of such tales, Danielle is as sweet as can be and Dominique is... not. When Danielle's neighbor, journalist Grace Collier, witnesses a murder in the former Siamese sister's apartment, she calls the police, who find nothing incriminating. With no further help from the authorities, Grace begins to investigate the strange affair on her own. As she digs deeper, Grace uncovers secrets shocking and horrifying enough to stop a man's heart! Secrets like... well, we wouldn't dare spoil them here! 

Shades of Hitchcock can be found throughout the picture: Bernard Herrmann's very Bernard Herrmann-like score, an abusive relationship that brings to mind Vertigo, Grace witnessing a crime from her window in a very Rear Window manner, a false protagonist that recalls Psycho, and many other elements that would spoil the mystery. And yet, despite the overwhelming Hitchcock-ness of the film, Sisters still has a distinct style of its own, one that De Palma would develop in later films. Employing perverse humor, a griminess unknown to Hitchcock, and decidedly '70s dose of pessimism, De Palma recontextualized Hitchcockian tropes for a new generation of filmgoers. On top of that, De Palma expanded upon the Hitchcockian style by using split-screen and other unique cinematic techniques we now associate with De Palma. 

Divorced from the Hitchcock comparisons, Sisters is still one heck of chiller-diller! Chockablock with nerve-slaying suspense and eerie visuals, it may be De Palma's creepiest film ever, William "Phantom of the Paradise" Finley is perfectly slimy as a sinister shrink and his madhouse of horrors is a bad dream in the best possible way. While there's nothing here that out-grosses a modern slasher film, the few moments of graphic violence are strong. The ending may frustrate a few viewers, but the final shot (another Hitchcock homage) is odd and memorable. 

The reason why we have chosen to review this film is because of its star, the late Margot Kidder. As of writing this, Kidder had just passed away a couple of days ago. Most think of her iconic turn as Lois Lane in the Superman films, but Kidder's work in this film is what our minds immediately go to. Playing the titular sisters, Kidder speaks in a French-Canadian accent which, to our ears, is most excellent. She is perfectly charming when she needs to be and properly disturbing when her character(s?) take a turn for the wicked. Without Kidder, this film wouldn't work nearly as well as it does. Her performance is highly underrated and proves that she was capable of far more than just playing Superman's love interest. Margot Kidder was an exceptional talent and she will be greatly missed.

Sisters is a masterful exercise in Hitchcockian terror and macabre movie-making.  It is a showcase of De Palma at his most stylish and of Margot Kidder's considerable acting chops. An absolute essential for horror fanatics and movie buffs. If you're looking to see Margot Kidder in a darker role than she's known for, give this film a view.


Thanks for the scares, Margot. 

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ThanXXX so much for stopping by...Let's be Ho-rror Buddies!

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Hit me up, Ho-mies!