review for The Initiation of Sarah on AllMovie

The Initiation of Sarah (1978)
by Donald Guarisco review

This competently made but unimpressive made-for-television production is more interesting for its cast of future stars than its derivative story. The Initiation of Sarah takes the majority of its major plot points from Carrie, right down to the heroine's telekinetic powers, but never manages to re-create the tension or emotion of that film. Robert Day's direction keeps the plot rolling at a decent pace, but can't bring much emotional gravity to the film's by-the-numbers scenario. The best element of The Initiation of Sarah is the acting: Kay Lenz is appealing and sympathetic as the put-upon Sarah and a young Morgan Fairchild makes a suitably hissable villain as the eternally snobby Jennifer. Shelly Winters also makes a memorable impression with her over-the-top performance as Mrs. Hunter, whose sinister motivations spur the film on to its tragic finale. Despite these quality performances and some slick production values, The Initiation of Sarah fails to generate the chills that would have made it a memorable horror film. As a result, it will be of greater interest to fans of campy television than it will be to horror enthusiasts.