The Rage: Carrie 2

Geez, talk about a slow burn. It’s been 23 years since Carrie White torched her prom and made life a living nightmare for classmate Sue Snell. 23 long years. A lot can happen in 23 years, but not if you’re trapped in movie hell.

Everything old is new again, but not necessarily better in “The Rage: Carrie 2,” a belated sequel that can’t seem to shake off the original 1976 film directed by Brian DePalma.

Not so much a sequel as a rehash, “Carrie 2” so desperately clings to the original that it actually includes clips of the horrific moments from that film. It’s a cinematic short cut, a device that works against the film. Every time “Carrie 2” director Katt Shea uses a clip, it makes you realize that you’re watching an inferior film.

The screenplay by Rafael Moreu (he also wrote the derivative “Hackers”) isn’t nearly as sharp, witty or scary as “Carrie,” which greatly benefitted from Lawrence Gordon’s masterful reworking of Stephen King’s novel.

Shea, a product of the Roger Corman school of filmmaking, makes the big leap here from low budget exploitation to large budget exploitation, and her tenure on such films as “Poison Ivy” has prepared her for task. Even at it’s most clumsy, “Carrie 2” is still a competently made film.

You just wish it was a better film, or even a different film. Just not a retread of the first film with some obvious modern references thrown in to make it hip. Teen horror movies are hip right now, and “Carrie 2” seems like an obvious attempt to capture some of the “Scream” overflow. Unlike that film, there’s little to scream about in “Carrie 2.”

Moreu doesn’t just telegraph plot points, he delivers them wrapped up in neon signs so even brain dead teenagers will get it. This approach is insulting, deriving the film of any suspense.

Newcomer Emily Bergl is actually quite good as Rachel Lang, one of the outcasts at Bates High School (the new one, the old one burned down). Through a stylish opening prologue, we learn that Rachel’s mom Barbara (J Smith-Cameron) has gone over the deep end. When we first meet her, she’s busy painting a red line around her room. It’s a true Piper Laurie moment out of the first film.

Is Rachel’s mother crazy, or does little Rachel actually have ties to the Devil? After all, Rachel can move things with her thoughts. Sound familiar? With Barbara away at a mental hospital, Rachel is forced to grow up with non-caring foster parents whose only concern is that they get that extra $300 a month for taking in Rachel.

Rachel, who looks like a Gothic chick but only prettier, sticks to herself, and has only one friend, Lisa (Mena Suvari). They’re just like sisters, so you can imagine Rachel’s reaction when Lisa confides in her that she’s no longer a virgin.

Unfortunately, Lisa’s knight in white shining rubber was Eric (Zachery Ty Bryan of “Home Improvement”), whose conquest of Lisa was just part of a scoring game with the football jocks. Heartbroken and devastated, Lisa practices her high dive off the school roof onto the windshield of a car. While she doesn’t get any points from the Russian judges, she does kill herself.

That sends Rachel into a dark place, and I’m not talking about Clinton’s cigar holder. There’s nothing worse than a pissed off telekinetic chick. Just ask Sue Snell (Amy Irving), who is now a school counselor at Bates. Still suffering nightmares from her own prom, Snell also spent a little time in the mental hospital. She’s much better now, and realizes that Rachel has the power to become another “Carrie.”

They both wish. If “The Rage: Carrie 2” were nearly half as entertaining and clever as the first film, I would have enjoyed it immensely. There’s not much here to recommend the film, from it’s vanilla performances to a script that takes leaps of faith for granted. For instance, we’re supposed to believe that the small town would allow the burned and gutted out old high school to still stand, even though it looks like hell.

The plot threads are familiar once the film gets past the first act. One of the football jocks (Jason London) actually falls for Rachel, must to the dismay of his upper echelon friends. Since they can’t stand to see one of their own embarrass them by hanging out with a “skank,” they decide to set Rachel up at a wild post football game party.

Deja Vu sets in when Rachel is embarrassed by everyone at the party, and to the strains of Piper Laurie shouting “They are all going to laugh at you,” she seals up the luxurious home where the party is being held and starts cleaning house.

The problem with the film is that except for Rachel and Jesse (London), all of the characters lack definition. While the actors portraying the jocks and their babes are fine, they are pretty indistinguishable. They all look, act and talk exactly alike.

So when Rachel opens up a can of whip ass during the finale and starts dishing it out, you never really know who is getting their butt kicked.

Alas, by this point you don’t even care. “The Rage: Carrie 2” lacks real villains. “Carrie” has the delicious Nancy Allen and John Travolta, who made you squirm in your seat as they bashed in the brains of a pig and then used its blood for their revenge.

“Carrie” also benefitted from DePalma’s exciting camera work and Pino Donaggio’s haunting, at times playful musical score (it’s still one of my favorites). Most of all, “Carrie” had Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie, both who received Oscar nominations for their portrayals of the tormented teen and her religious zealot of a mother.

Who can forget Carrie’s ultimate denial of her mother’s wishes that ended up with mom looking like a bad Benihana chef? The best the filmmaker’s here can come up with is that fireplace poker.

“Carrie 2” won’t be all the rage, but it might cause some in fans who come expecting something new or at least different. It should come and go in theaters faster than Linda Tripp’s one-woman show “Back Stabbing Bitch.”



Emily Bergl, Jason London, Dylan Bruno, Amy Irving, J. Smith-Cameron, Zachery Ty Bryan, Gordon Clapp and John Doe in a film directed by Katt Shea. Rated R. 101 Minutes.


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