Emily Bergl - Rachel Lang
Jason London - Jesse Ryan
Dylan Bruno - Mark Bing
Amy Irving - Sue Snell
Zachary Ty Bryan - Eric Stark
Rachel Blanchard - Monica Jones
Charlotte Lopez - Tracy Campbell
J. Smith-Cameron - Barbara Lang
Mena Suvari - Lisa Parker
Genre - Horror/Supernatural
Running Time - 104 Minutes
In 1976, a horror classic was released based on Stephen King's first novel. Brian De Palma's CARRIE has been a cherished piece of horror cinema for almost 40 years, due to great performances [including Academy Award nominated performances by Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie], inventive and stylish direction by De Palma [who became A-list after CARRIE], and a great screenplay adaptation that took a mediocre novel [in my opinion] and turned it into a fantastic drama with horror sprinkled all over it. CARRIE has stood the test of time, using a theme of bullying and acceptance that's still as relevant today as it was back in the mid-1970s.
Unfortunately, most horror classics these days are subject to being remade for a new audience. On October 18, 2013, Kimberly Peirce's version of CARRIE, starring Chloe Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore, will be released nationwide to, what I'm sure will be, a huge debate that will lead to many comparisons to De Palma's film. But as I'm sure most horror fans know, this will be the second attempt to rebooting Carrie White's tragic story. In 2002, there was a television remake starring Angela Bettis that followed the novel more closely, which resulted in pretty poor reviews. I'll be reviewing that film next week.
Today, though, I will be taking a look at the 1999 sequel by Katt Shea - THE RAGE: CARRIE 2. Due to the popularity of 1996's SCREAM, which revived the horror genre and certain franchises, studios were dying to continue horror stories that may not have needed it. THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 wasn't a box office success, making about $4 million less than its $21 million budget. But it does have its fans, who enjoy it as an interesting continuation of a classic narrative. I've never been a big fan for this sequel, although they are things I like about it. It's a decent film, even though I feel this sequel shouldn't even exist.
In a short prologue, a schizophrenic mother is taken away by authorities due to parenting issues with her young daughter - who just happens to have the ability to move objects with her mind. We switch to the present day, where that young girl is a teenager named Rachel (Emily Bergl). Rachel doesn't have the perfect life. Her foster parents seem indifferent to her, only needing her for a check they receive from the government. She's considered an outcast at her high school, only being friends with a couple of people - including her best friend Lisa (Mena Suvari), who is happy to have lost her virginity to a football player named Eric (Zachary Ty Bryan).
The same day, Lisa is devastated by something and kills herself by jumping off of the school's roof. Rachel is distraught by Lisa's death, but soon learns that Eric had dumped her - not realizing that the football players are having sex with girls for points as some sort of game. However, one of the football players, Jesse (Jason London) isn't a huge fan of the game [even though he's participating in it somewhat] and seems to have a genuine liking in Rachel.
Meanwhile, someone has been keeping a watchful eye on Rachel. That someone is Sue Snell (Amy Irving), the school's guidance counselor and the sole survivor of Carrie White's prom massacre more than twenty years prior. Noticing that Rachel is able to move things with her mind, the similarities to Carrie begin to worry her, wondering if Rachel and Carrie are related somehow. Her investigation needs to be quick, as many of the popular kids are planning to pull a prank on Rachel during a party, which may push Rachel over the edge and may cost some people their lives.
- The acting. THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 is a mixed bag, but the acting is pretty damn good here. The real star here is Emily Bergl, who turns Rachel from a one-dimensional Carrie White wannabe into a fleshed out human being. Bergl is very talented in the role, as she's charming, believable, and quite convincing as a character struggling with her powers and her social status. I really like her here. Jason London is also very good as Jesse, giving a more quiet and subtle performance. I thought his chemistry with Bergl was very solid, which made the performance better. Dylan Bruno looks like a jerk, which elevates his menacing performance as Mark. Zachary Ty Bryan was just okay as Eric, playing an asshole and not much else. Rachel Blanchard and Charlotte Lopez play their bitchy roles well. And Amy Irving does okay reprising Sue Snell. At least her presence connects the original with its sequel in a logical way. I didn't mind the performances here.
- The love story subplot. I have many issues with how the narrative is presented in this sequel. But the love story between Rachel and Jesse isn't one of them. For a film that tries to be a late-90's retread of CARRIE, it's nice to see something different in terms of the troubled girl with powers actually meeting the boy of her dreams who genuinely cares about her. In the first film, Tommy Ross was persuaded by Sue Snell to ask Carrie White to the prom as a way to make up for how Sue and her friends had treated her. It wasn't because Tommy really liked Carrie and wanted to ask her out with genuine intentions. It wasn't until the prom that Tommy got to know Carrie as a person and started to like her, which of course was too late.
In THE RAGE: CARRIE 2, the love story between Rachel and Jesse plays out longer and is really the soul of the movie. It's the cliche "Romeo and Juliet" deal with the outsider girl falling for the popular jock. The people around them want to break them up by making Jesse look like a bad guy, just to humiliate Rachel for knowing way too much about Lisa's suicide [which was caused by Jesse's friend, Eric]. And even through all the hardships and obstacles, the two still managed to show and declare their love for each other. It gives this sequel a different feel than the first film, which is great, and allows the two main characters to grow as fleshed out characters who just want to be left alone and be together. These scenes just fly by during the film's runtime because they're believable and the chemistry between Bergl and London is solid. I wish the rest of the story was just as convincing.
- Katt Shea's direction. While no Brian De Palma, Katt Shea's direction is still pretty good here. Shea wasn't originally hired to direct this film, as original director Robert Mandel had quit the film due to creative differences with the studio. Not sure how Mandel would have visualized this film, but I thought Shea presented some great style here. A lot of people hate the black and white shots whenever Rachel uses her power, but I sort of dug them personally. I also loved how the lens was stretched during these black and white shots, as well as the changing of shot scales during them, to reflect Rachel's struggle with her telekinesis. There's some cool slow motion. Nice angles and edits are used. I thought the party scene at the end was shot really well, with the CGI used decently. Remember - CDs can behead you. Even the sound design was inspired, with Rachel hearing nothing but silence during her power moments. Shea did a commendable job here, especially considering how last minute it was.
- The unlikeable characters. I think my biggest issue with THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 is that 90 percent of the characters are assholes and bitches towards Rachel. Sure, majority of the characters treated Carrie White like shit in the original. But most of them realized that they were wrong and somewhat felt bad about it, besides Margaret, Chris, Norma, and Billy. In the sequel, these characters actually take pride in wanting to ruin a girl's life. Why?
Carrie White was an introverted outcast with a crazy religious mother, which I'm sure played a huge role in her alienation. You can tell that Carrie wasn't the popular girl, and I can see why the "cool" kids would want to bully her a bit. But you got the sense that, besides a select few, they were just doing that to fit in with the popular students. Carrie was genuinely liked during the prom before the bucket of blood thing happened.
However, Rachel is a different character from Carrie White. She's not introverted, as she clearly has friends, a job, and even a boyfriend. While her mother is crazy, Rachel lives with foster parents [who treat her like shit]. So she's not part of the upper class society most of these students are a part of. Is that any reason for any of these characters to go to the lengths they do to actually torture a single teenage girl? The football players hate Rachel because she knows they had a part to play with Lisa's death. And she's the bad guy?? And what a crime it was for Jesse to fall in love with her - an attractive young woman who actually has brains and a personality! There's nothing about Rachel that would make any normal human being want to humiliate her. These antagonists are just heartless bastards who enjoy tearing people down because it makes them feel better about themselves. Now I can buy one or two of them being cold sons of bitches. But all of them??? Really?? The whole town was against this one girl for nothing! Just bad characterization in my opinion, just to have an excuse for Rachel to kill them all at the end.
And I really felt bad for how Sue Snell was treated in this film. She's a great throwback to the first film. The fact that she's a guidance counselor who wants to help Rachel have a firmer grasp with her powers makes sense, considering the trauma she went through because of Carrie. But the way she goes out is pretty messed up and an insult to the original in a sense. I thought Sue could have been used better within the story.
- The uneven tone. I'm not really sure what THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 wanted to be. It's a drama for 85 minutes, then turns full on gorefest during the final 20. While CARRIE was a drama with horror mixed in, that feeling of dread was always present even during the quieter moments. The narrative naturally flowed from the dramatic moments into the horrific scenarios in the final act. In the sequel, it just feels forced because it exists to follow the same template as the first film. No matter what came before it, the horror and bloodshed had to happen in the final act because it's predictable.
I'm not saying I hated both tones. I think both the drama portions and the horror portion at the end were fine. But they don't really go together in this film. There's nothing really in the drama portions that naturally builds up to Rachel killing all the popular kids. Sure, they're scheming and messing with her. But the plan at the party just seems so last minute and out of place, that I can't really buy the earlier scenes naturally flowing into the last act. There had to be a moment where Rachel gets revenge on those who wronged her, which I understand. I just wish the build to it was better and not so convoluted so it could make some sense. Plus, it felt so bland anyway. I dunno...
I also found it strange that Rachel controlled her power so perfectly in the final act, regardless that anytime she used her powers before, she had trouble dealing with them. There was nothing in the film that showed me that Rachel started to gain a grasp on her telekinesis. You'd think as angry as she was at the end, her powers would be less focused than they were - especially since she barely had a focus on these powers to begin with. There are a lot of issues with the film in terms of narration. Sure it's kind of fun to watch on a superficial level, but when these flaws start to nag at me, I have a problem.
- The ending. CARRIE's ending is one of the most famous horror endings of all time. So much so, that the first FRIDAY THE 13TH stole it and actually enhanced on it. The sequel's ending? One word: dumb.
I'm not sure what the ending was supposed to do. It just feels so tacked on and so out of place, I wish the film had ended before this portion is shown. I read that this was the reshot ending, as the original ending wasn't favored during test screenings. From what I read about it, it probably would have been more interesting than the one we actually got. The theatrical ending doesn't do anything for me, nor does it enhance the film in anyway.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE KEEPING SCORES OF THE CHICKS I BANGED
- Rachel's crazy mother streaked the inside of her house with red paint. If she moved to Amityville, the house there would paint itself red for her!
- Lisa fell from the school roof to her death. She must have seen her future and learned she'd star in that crummy DAY OF THE DEAD remake. Not worth committing suicide over really.
- Eric Stark dumped Lisa, leading to her suicide, using her to gain points in some sex game with his football buddies. Just because your dad hosted "Tool Time" doesn't mean you had to become one, douche.
- The football coach made Mark Bing drop his pants in front of the entire football team. Jerry Sandusky sure gets around.
- Rachel refused to believe that Carrie White was her half-sister. Shit, you'd think Carrie White mass murdered people at a prom or someth--- oh right...
- Tracy is considered a Melrose Place Super Bitch. Psh. She's no Heather Locklear. Even Swamp Thing would agree with me!
- Jesse took Rachel's virginity. It's no surprise he leaves the ladies DAZED AND CONFUSED.
- The cool kids embarrassed Rachel at a party by showing everyone there footage of her having sex with Jesse. Hell, Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian would have appreciated this type of humiliation.
THE FINAL HOWL
THE RAGE: CARRIE 2 is a mediocre sequel that's sort of fun to watch. It's a 90's version of the CARRIE story, just with a love story that surprisingly works and gorier death sequences during the party scene. I thought the acting and direction were fine, and some moments are inspired. But most of the characters are one-dimensional and extremely unlikeable. The ending is a head scratcher. And the dramatic and horror tones don't really work here like it does in the first film. And even though it could have been worse, this sequel still feels unnecessary. A decent time-waster but not much else, to be honest.