A stylish supernatural thriller, Christine is sleek and flashy. John Carpenter directs the adaptation of Stephen King's book with sly verve, and delivers entertaining suspense.
Arnie's personality changes: he confidently wins the affections of Leigh (Alexandra Paul), the new girl at the school, then he becomes aggressive, foul-mouthed and finally enraged. Mysterious accidents take place, with Christine violently running down anyone who is mean to Artie or demanding of his attention, including Buddy, the local bully, and all his gang members. Detective Junkins (Harry Dean Stanton) connects the dots and starts to pressure Arnie into explaining why his car is involved in so many unexplained deaths, leading to a final confrontation involving Artie, Christine, Dennis and Leigh.
The transformation of Arnie is the centrepoint of Christine, and Keith Gordon convincingly transitions from geeky to cocky to obsessed as Christine gets a hold of his soul. John Stockwell is also solid as Dennis, while Robert Prosky as the pot-bellied and foul-mouthed Darnell uses copious amounts of bile to chew up and spit out every scene that he's in. In one of her earliest roles, Alexandra Paul cannot rise beyond the confines of the stock attractive girlfriend role.
Carpenter's greatest success is visual. The scenes of Christine's self-repair are mesmerizing, while the Fury-on-fire sequence chasing Buddy to his death is a haunting classic.
Technology running amok and turning against humans is one of Stephen King's favourite topics for creating suspense stories, but Christine also works as a metaphor for the destructive impact of the automobile age. Christine succeeds in effortlessly transforming the staid and cerebral Arnie to a self-obsessed anti-social maniac, and destroys all his relationships, in other words a direct if exaggerated parallel to the impact of the auto industry on overall societal behaviour.
Christine charges down the road, throttle wide open, on the way to a gratifying and classy horror film experience.
All Ace Black Blog Movie Reviews are here.