Movie Review: Christine (1983)

Starring: Keith Gordon, John Stockwell and Alexandra Paul

Directed by: John Carpenter

High school nerd Arnie Cunningham falls in love with his new car “Christine” which needed a lot of work when he bought it. After putting in the hard work to restore the 1958 Plymouth Fury to its former glory he begins changing and alienating himself away from his friends and family while spending more time with his car. After noticing the car has a mind of its own, best friend Dennis tries to intervene before it’s too late.

The eighties was a decade where the horror genre thrived and it’s also where John Carpenter produced some of his greatest pieces of work which included The Thing, The Fog and They Live. Christine can be added to that list of great John Carpenter horror movies as the story is superbly told and the transformation of Arnie’s character throughout the film is great to see.

Christine is a Stephen King adaptation which were so frequent in the eighties and are now marking somewhat of a resurgence. I personally can’t think of a Stephen King novel that has been adapted into cinema that I didn’t enjoy, except maybe The Dark Tower and even that movie wasn’t bad, it was watchable but just felt a little rushed and the story was a little muddled.

Christine is the type of horror movie that can be enjoyed by even biggest horror sceptic. It’s not your usual horror movie with creepy monsters, gory death scenes and unnecessary jump scares, it’s a lot more sophisticated than that. The horror is more based around the eeriness and creepiness of Christine and the fact that it’s a car that is its own being with a mind of its own. While there are some death scenes, they are very well delivered and not over the top outrageous and add to the mystique of Christine. The character transformation of car owner Arnie is great to watch too. He starts off as a generic high school nerd who you wouldn’t look twice at but after buying Christine and spending the time to restore her he transforms into an extremely confident guy with a bit of a nasty streak which only gets worse the longer he’s in possession of the car. It’s almost like Christine’s aura is living through Arnie’s body which was fascinating to watch unfold.

As previously mentioned, Christine doesn’t need to rely on jump scares in order to be scary, the natural progression of the story and the character development is enough to strike enough realistic fear into the audience. That’s the main problem with the horror genre over the last ten years or so. They are all heavily reliant on jump scares in order to be “scary” which I think is the main reason why I tend to steer clear of modern day horror releases and would much rather watch the older ones. Finally, the soundtrack used for the movie is great. All the songs that come on the radio are perfectly chosen and help set the mood of the movie, fantastic selection of music.

The one problem with Christine which really took the movie down a notch was the acting at times was extremely mediocre. While Keith Gordon (Arnie) was great throughout as both nerd and psycho and there was a nicely played supporting role by the late Harry Dean Stanton (Detective Rudolph Junkins) the rest of the cast were very average in their performance. John Stockwell who played Dennis, Arnie’s best friend, and Alexandra Paul who played Arnie’s love interest Leigh, were both quite poor in performance especially the latter of the two. While horror movies aren’t renowned for great displays of acting, it would’ve been nice if the supporting cast could’ve matched the quality of Keith Gordon.

In conclusion, Christine was an extremely enjoyable watch and is definitely worth checking out even if you’re like me and don’t tend to watch many horror movies. Armed with great story telling and direction Christine does superbly well to get you on the edge of your seat and will not disappoint.

8/10

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