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‘Sisters’: Brian De Palma’s Gleefully Twisted Exploitation Tale

Brian De Palma‘s shocking exploitation gut-punch, Sisters, is a perfectly orchestrated exercise in style, a staging of some of the finest suspense sequences since Alfred Hitchcock was above ground. Channeling the Master of Suspense’s gleeful enjoyment of audience manipulation, De Palma remarkably employs a trashy genre aesthetic to satirically explore issues of race and social alienation. It’s a film about outsiders — a starkly disturbing reminder that looks and appearances can be dangerously deceiving — that’s nevertheless less interested in soap-box statements than inducing audiences to squeal and squirm. Grim in its contemporary relevance, De Palma and co-writer Louisa Rose‘s political satire is ever-present but far from overt, quietly bubbling in the background. This is a film in which police officers respond to learning of the stabbing of an African-American man by hatefully grumbling, “Those people are always stabbing each other.”

The film’s opening scene launches

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