The Fury (Brian De Palma, 1978)
A government agent (Kirk Douglas) is determined to come to his son's (Andrew Stevens) rescue when a sinister official (John Cassavetes) kidnaps him to harbor his extremely powerful psychic abilities.
Following Brian De Palma’s successful Carrie, adapted from the novel of Stephen King, The Fury was adapted from John Farris’ novel and is about teenage psychic powers. This cross between a thriller and horror movie genre film is surprisingly well handled even if foreshadowed by the aforementioned Carrie. The Fury is also less about sexuality but more on Freudian themes of the relationships between the father and his son and the absence of a mother.
There’s a clear struggle between Peter (Douglas) and Ben (Cassavetes) who are fighting over the title of Robin’s (Stevens) father figure. However, in this story we also follow Gillian Bellaver (Amy Irving) who has the same psychic abilities than Robin. Her path shows how the son was taken. There’s a lot going on and the meaning levels of The Fury are multi layered but at some point it gets a bit sketchy and to help the pace of the film some elements are quickly thrown in the way.
This last point demonstrates how uneven the film is at moments and besides having some bold traits for the main characters they have campy and unnecessary reactions. On the top of my head I just think of the scene in the bus with Peter and Gillian for instance. In just a few minutes the moods of both characters swing from high to low.
On the plus side, the shooting location of Chicago is refreshing and it is not that often that films are shot in this wonderful city. De Palma’s aesthetics give us a few great moments of mise en scene with the use of the pan and some over the head shots. Of course, the obligatory sampling of Alfred Hitchcock movies is present and use with great style and inspiration. Once again, it is evident that De Palma is a great technician at his craft and that besides the fact that he lacks in depth sometimes, his films always have something for the eyes of the initiated. Lately, I’ve been digging in his filmography and I admit having such a guilty pleasure at watching his oeuvre. At last, what is Cinema if it pleases us. No matter if it carries plot holes and that a minor element can be over the top for no reason.
Even if late De Palma means burned up directorial talent, the director that worked in the era of his Carrie, Blow Out, and Dressed to Kill had something exciting and particular to offer. Just like many of his lesser known films, The Fury might be his most underrated.