mon 27/05/2024

DVD/Blu-ray: Raising Cain | reviews, news & interviews

DVD/Blu-ray: Raising Cain

DVD/Blu-ray: Raising Cain

De Palma's forgotten nightmare returns in two versions

Seeing double: John Lithgow in excelsis

It has Brian De Palma’s greatest shock ending since Carrie, and an Alec Guinness-worth of John Lithgow psychopaths – yet 1992’s Raising Cain is rarely remembered among the director’s best works.

I last came across it midway through, late at night on TV, unsure of quite what I was seeing, and sent reeling to sleep.

Watching from the start hardly steadies the Chinese-box dream-sequences and vertiginous violence, as nice child psychologist Dr. Carter Nix (Lithgow) tries to survive his relationship with nasty twin brother Cain (Lithgow), cruel Norwegian dad Dr. Nix (Lithgow) and adulterous wife Jenny (Lolita Davidovich). Of course, it’s not as simple as that, especially when even Nice Lithgow drugs and kidnaps a friend and her child in the very first scene…

Lolita Davidovich, John Lithgow in Raising Cain“I think, between the two of, we’re going to make a real meal out of this,” Lithgow recalls telling his director in an Extras interview. There is, typically, ripe camp and real menace to both men’s work. De Palma was, also habitually, staggering back into the psychological thriller much as a drunk will his favourite bar, after his adaptation of The Bonfire of the Vanities became a self-fulfilling title. But this is far from pat revisiting of former glories. Sunlight pours like mist into the idyllic park where children are snatched, and there is a sequence of traumatised, gruesome female faces. Yet the female cast also includes Frances Sternhagen’s cancer-ridden psychiatrist, whose rambling exposition while roaming a maze of police corridors has its rote nature transmuted by a Wellesian single-take. Davidovich, too (pictured above with Lithgow), is vigorous and far from helpless as she’s assaulted by the film’s feverish logic, in which editing exists somewhere between dream and memory.

This triple-disc release’s multiple recent and new interviews with cast and key crew sadly lack Davidovich and De Palma, but include a documentary on Peet Gelderblom’s director-approved re-edit, which reconstructs the original intent to hold back the Lithgow mayhem. This is on DVD and Blu-ray. The Blu-ray also has the Gelderblom cut, to compare and contrast.

De Palma staggered back into the psychological thriller as a drunk will his favourite bar


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

Explore topics

Share this article

Add comment

Subscribe to

Thank you for continuing to read our work on For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 15,000 pieces, we're asking for £5 per month or £40 per year. We feel it's a very good deal, and hope you do too.

To take a subscription now simply click here.

And if you're looking for that extra gift for a friend or family member, why not treat them to a gift subscription?


Get a weekly digest of our critical highlights in your inbox each Thursday!

Simply enter your email address in the box below

View previous newsletters