Subtle psychological tension is punctuated by some kitchen-knife slashing in Brian De Palma's underrated thriller Sisters. Margot Kidder plays Danielle Breton, a model/actress in New York City whose romantic life is complicated by her demented -- and violent -- twin sister. De Palma's flair for the choreography of suspense is completely on display here, most notably in a few beautifully engineered split-screen sequences (a technique he would employ again in Carrie). Also typically De Palma are the shades of Alfred Hitchcock in Sisters, including a few scenes straight out of Rear Window and a haunting score by longtime Hitchcock collaborator Bernard Herrmann. The performances are all solid if low-key, save for Kidder's. And while the story unfolds rather slowly, it packs several clever twists capped off by a brilliantly off-kilter hypnosis sequence, resulting in an effective thriller that stands among De Palma's best films.
In Sisters, Brian De Palma reworks elements of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Rear Window to tell a timely and eerie tale about the fate of women who deviate from normalcy in ways that go beyond stabbings and voyeurism. Using split screens to ratchet up the suspense, De Palma also hints at a kinship between Grace and Danielle, as they are both patronized by various male authority figures. Bernard Herrmann's foreboding score adds to the Hitchcockian atmosphere (as does the darkly humorous final shot), but the nightmarishly surreal visit to a mental hospital signaled the technical virtuosity (and gore) that would characterize De Palma's subsequent work. Shot for little money, Sisters became quite profitable, establishing De Palma's directorial standing after a handful of little-seen independent films and one Hollywood debacle with Get to Know Your Rabbit (1970). Although Carrie (1976) would surpass it at the box office, Sisters is remarkable proof of De Palma's visual skill and ability to creep out his audience.