Raising Cain (1992)

raising cain poster 1992 movie john lithgow brian de palma
5.0 Overall Score
Story: 5/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Good intentions

Bad execution

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Raising Cain

Studio:   Universal Pictures

Genre(s):   Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  August 7, 1992

MPAA Rating:   R

raising cain john lithgow lolita davidovich

I hate when my husband has one of his multiple personalities kill me…

Dr. Carter Nix (John Lithgow) has secrets. Married to Jenny (Lilita Davidovich), Nix has taken time off to raise their child Amy (Amanda Pombo), but his obsession with their child’s rearing has pushed Jenny to the edge and into an off-again-on-again affair with the husband of a former patient (Steven Bauer). What Jenny doesn’t know is that Carter is following in his father’s research and he needs children for his experiments. With disappearances cropping up, Carter must cover his tracks and the danger is growing…Carter is about to break.

Directed by Brian De Palma, Raising Cain is a psychological thriller. The movie was met with mixed to negative reviews upon its release. Peet Gelderblom reedited the film to fit closer to De Palma’s original intent and the version was recognized by De Palma as an official cut.

I remember wanting to see Raising Cain when it was released, but it never happening. Finally getting to watch the film, I was kind of disappointed from it. Though I like De Palma and Raising Cain has all his typical earmarks, the movie is a bit of a mess (which also isn’t entirely a De Palma trademark).

raising cain dr nix john lithgow

Crazy Grandpa is going to watch me, Mommy

The story was originally to be more Psycho in its basis (or in De Palma world like Dressed to Kill). It was going to follow Jenny and suddenly dive into the mental break of Nix, his father, and everything else. This story is a bit more compelling and less outlandish than what was left. What came out in the theater really did resemble Dressed to Kill…complete with fake reveals, police sequences, and even a crossdressing and elevator scene similar to that movie. As a result, Raising Cain tries way to hard to surprise and shock and instead comes off as goofy fluff.

John Lithgow is always fun. He dives into the multiple roles of the film and really eats them up. Lilita Davidovich is kind of bland as the wife (and it is a bit understandable why they rearranged the plot to focus on Lithgow more). Frances Sternhagen is good as the psychiatrist trying to unravel what is going on with Lithgow and leads to the fun last act of the movie. The movie is loaded with character actors and it feels like even some of the supporting cast should have been developed more in the script.

raising cain john lithgow woman

I’m still stumping for The World According to Garp 2: Still Garping After All These Years

Visually, the movie has a lot of De Palma to it. Early, De Palma used a lot of visual experimentation, but in Raising Cain, he seems to rely on the surprise jump and fake “dream” sequences…multiple times. The editing and composition of the story has you wondering what is going on a lot of the time, but it also gets to the point where you stop caring.

Raising Cain is definitely polarizing. There were things I liked about it, but there were also things I hated. What really upset me about the film was how derivative it was of De Palma’s own work…and had me wishing that I just watched Dressed to Kill or Body Double again. While these title (and even Blow Out) took De Palma’s style, De Palma also added to it and developed it. Raising Cain feels like nothing new and nothing special which is the real shame.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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