Midway through Sisters I realized that this was one bizarre horror film. Brian De Palma pays homage to Psycho and also Rear Window in his own odd way, even going so far as to hire Bernard Herrmann, Alfred Hitchcock’s old composer, to do the film’s score. I loved the use of split screen later on in the film, particularly since it ups the tension and is a relatively unique technique. De Palma also utilizes flashbacks and home video in a scene that is rather disturbing and eerie, taking the viewer deeper into the film and acting as a strange and really vivid fantasy that happens to be actually happening to the film’s protagonist, Grace, the neighbor of one Danielle, played by Margot Kidder. The truth of the entire matter surrounding a murder that Grace claims to have witnessed but yet no one can find a trace of is not even the craziest thing about this entire movie.
Nope instead its the fact that Danielle is not who she seems, and that her past hides a dangerous secret that leads to even more intrigue. I was fascinated by how well constructed this movie is, although I am well aware of De Palma’s reputation for creating smart thrillers. In a way Sisters is a fine dress rehearsal for De Palma’s 1976 horror classic Carrie, another movie about a disturbed woman who ends up committing violent acts. I found the murder scene to be rather shocking and graphic, and the use of red blood in a white room is a brilliant contrast of visually striking colors is fantastic and another hallmark of De Palma’s work.
Well that and the film also has the charming performance of Charles Durning, who plays an obsessive private eye hired by Grace to get to the bottom of the mystery. Even though its low budget aspects hurt the film a little Sisters is a really good, maybe even great, horror film that stands out from some of the early 70s horror thrillers. I would love to purchase it on Criterion at some point, although I’m not sure if its not out of print or not. The current sale going on is as good a time as any to find out.