Raising Cain - Plot

Plot

Dr. Carter Nix (Lithgow) is a respected child psychologist. His wife, Jenny (Lolita Davidovich), becomes concerned that Carter is obsessively studying their daughter, Amy; he regards her like a scientist tracking the development of his creation. Carter actually suffers from multiple personality disorder. His multiples are Cain, a streetwise hustler, Josh, a traumatized little boy, and Margo, a middle-aged mother figure. Carter/Cain is killing young mothers to procure their children for his experiments.

Jenny is having an affair with Jack Dante (Steven Bauer), the widower of a former patient. She had a relationship with him years ago, but he left her. Now she plans to leave Carter and elope with him. When Carter accidentally discovers their tryst, he descends completely into his madness and begins leaving subtle clues for the police that Jack is the real killer. Next, he attempts to kill Jenny by submerging her car in a lake. She escapes and confronts Carter at home. Unable to find Amy, Jenny demands Carter tell her where she is. Carter replies that she is with his father, whom Jenny knows has been dead for years.

Carter is apprehended for attempted murder. The police bring Dr. Lynn Waldheim (Frances Sternhagen) to interrogate him. Waldheim interviews Carter and informs the police that she co-wrote a book with Dr. Nix Sr. called Raising Cain, about a boy with multiple personality disorder. Dr. Nix Sr. had extensive detailed knowledge of Cain's tortured childhood, including taped recordings of their sessions. However, Waldheim was never allowed to meet Cain. She pieced the situation together: Dr. Nix Sr. dispassionately put his own son through years of severe child abuse to gain firsthand accounts of his traumatic psychological development and study the emerging personalities. Horrified, Waldheim quit the project.

During interrogation, the "Carter" personality disappears, and "Margo" (the mother) and "Josh" (the child) act and speak for him. Josh recites a rhyme and vanishes, and Margo assumes control of the body. She stonewalls Waldheim from any further questioning. Eventually, Carter/Cain breaks from their confines. They pounce upon Dr. Waldheim, knocking her unconscious and leaving the building disguised as her. The police soon find Waldheim begging them to arrest Carter before any children are harmed.

Dr. Nix, Sr. (also played by Lithgow) is in fact alive, having faked his own death to elude prosecution for attempting to buy babies. He has established a new identity and a clandestine research facility in Norway. He has been using Carter and his multiples to procure the children so he will have an adequate control group to study the development of MPD. Jenny follows who she thinks is Waldheim to a motel, but it is actually Carter/Cain. She follows Carter/Cain, who is now Margo, into an elevator. When it opens, she sees Dr. Nix Sr. with her daughter Amy. While Jenny begs for Nix Sr. to give back her daughter, Carter/Cain/Margo stabs "their" father from behind. Jack arrives with the police, and Carter/Cain/Margo disappears.

The movie ends with Jenny and Amy in a park. Amy runs off into the woods calling "Daddy, Daddy". Jenny follows her and finds Amy, who says her father has gone away. When Jenny bends down to pick Amy up, Carter appears behind her in a wig and a dress; Margo is now in control. Jenny holds Amy in her arms, oblivious to who is behind her.

Read more about this topic:  Raising Cain

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    James’s great gift, of course, was his ability to tell a plot in shimmering detail with such delicacy of treatment and such fine aloofness—that is, reluctance to engage in any direct grappling with what, in the play or story, had actually “taken place”Mthat his listeners often did not, in the end, know what had, to put it in another way, “gone on.”
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