This is one of those famous films that people discuss, but not that many have seen. Brian DePalma is often unfairly dismissed as "the guy that rips off Hitchcock", a statement that overlooks the variety of his film career.
Brian DePalma made his feature length horror debut with ‘Sisters’, 'Sisters' was DePalma's first foray into Hitchcock territory, and his subsequent stereotyping shows just how impressive he was in the thriller genre by the class of his work. This is a sinister film in the tradition of Alfred Hitchcock’s works.
Margot Kidder , a few years prior to her fame as Lois Lane , is brilliant as a troubled, separated Siamese twin, with a haunting secret. Jennifer Salt plays a strong young newspaper columnist who believes she has witnessed one of the twins commit a murder (in a deliberate nod to 'Rear Window'). She cannot get the police to believe her due to the murder victim being black, and their prejudice, and so she begins to do her own investigations, helped by a small time private eye, Larch (Charles Durning.) She discovers that there is a lot more to the sisters' and the murder than meets the eye, and vows to find out what is really going on, though she finds it’s a much harder job than she originally thought, as she delves into the world of hypnotism and the insane.
This movie starts out as a brilliant, edge of your seat thriller, but annoyingly, the end let it down for me in a big way. The first half of the movie is superb and it’s a shame the rest of the film couldn’t keep up with it’s intrigue and pace. Margot Kidder is superb in her role, and shows her usual gift as an actress. Jennifer Salt as the feisty detective that won’t quit is just as commanding and brings a real strength to the role. Equally memorable is DePalma regular William Finley in a macabre and creepy performance as one of twins ex-husband who will do anything to protect her and her secret.
Brian DePalma uses his famous split screens (as used in Stephen King’s ‘Carrie’) to high effect, and keeps the tension to boiling point throughout. There are some extremely unsettling and highly effective scenes (the awful, bright fake blood not included) and there are many layers of disturbance and psychological masterpiece on show. The cinematography is on point throughout, and DePalma gives us some masterful scenes.
The score is also brilliant, with DePalma tracking down Hitchcock’s iconic composer, Bernard Herrmann , and combined with the "Rear Window" esquire story, and an eerie crackerjack sort of ending – DePalma successfully creates a truly thrilling viewing experience.
The brief yet brutal violence and far-fetched plot may put off some viewers, but the film is a great piece of movie history, even if the ending won’t be satisfactory for everyone. However, the film is highly recommended to genre enthusiasts and a must see for Brian DePalma die hard fans