THE SPELL (1977)
Article 4505 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Lee Philips
Featuring Lee Grant, Susan Myers, Lelia Goldoni
What it is: Made-for-TV CARRIE
An overweight teenage girl finds herself the brunt of cruelty at both home and school. However, she turns out to have psychic powers…
Let’s state the obvious first; this movie probably wouldn’t exist if CARRIE hadn’t been such a big hit and offered itself as a model for imitation. That being said, at least this TV-Movie doesn’t try to ape its model religiously; the movie chooses to concentrate more on the girl’s home life than it does her school conflicts. When the movie explores the family dynamic of her home life, it’s at its most interesting. However, I think the movie makes one huge strategic mistake; by making the teenage girl unsympathetic (she’s petulant and sometimes as mean-spirited and shallow as her tormentors), it ends up making it very hard to care for her plight. Maybe that’s why the movie ends up spending more time with the girl’s mother than the girl herself. The more the movie strays into CARRIE territory, the sillier and less effective it becomes, though I will give it credit for having a plot twist towards the end that is actually pretty logical. And, given the discovery we make about the girl’s mother towards the end of the movie, I have to say that the latter seems rather dim in taking so long to figure out what’s going on with her daughter.