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The Rage: Carrie 2

movie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Rage: Carrie 2

Starring: Amy Irving, Emily Bergl
Director: Katt Shea Ruben
Rated: R
RunTime: 90 Minutes
Release Date: March 1999
Genre: Horror

*Also starring: Jason London, Dylan Bruno, Rachel Blanchard, John Doe, Gordon Clapp

Review by MrBrown
1½ stars out of 4

Why a sequel to _Carrie_, and why now? I cannot think of one valid reason except sheer desperation over at beleaguered MGM/UA, for the retarded rehash _The_Rage:_Carrie_2_ fails to offer even one compelling reason for its pathetic existence.

What is compelling, however, is newcomer Emily Bergl, who takes center stage as Rachel Lang, another alienated teen at Bates High School who, like one Carrie White some twenty years before her, is blessed (cursed?) with the ability to move objects with her mind, or telekinesis. But this "Carrie" has been given a '90s makeover: this tough-talking Goth chick is no one's victim, unlike her predecessor. (She even gets to lose her virginity.) Sounds like a thankless task, but Bergl, while no Sissy Spacek, holds the audience's attention and interest well, infusing Rachel with the right amount of warmth and vulnerability beneath her rough facade.

But for all the contemporary touches and new plot wrinkles writer Rafael Moreu and director Katt Shea dress _The_Rage_ in, there's no hiding the fact that this is just about the same movie that came out in 1976. Telekinetic girl is picked on by peers. Peers humiliate her in big social event (here, a party instead of the prom). Girl takes violent revenge. Even the characters are direct analogues to the original. In addition to the obvious Rachel = Carrie, Jason London (as Rachel's boyfriend Jessie) is William Katt's sensitive Tommy; Nancy Allen's uberbitch Chris has been split into Rachel Blanchard's Monica and Charlotte Ayanna's Tracy; similarly, John Travolta's blowhard Billy is replaced by Dylan Bruno's Mark and Zachery Ty Bryan's Eric; and Rachel's religious, institutionalized mother (J. Smith-Cameron) is an extremely watered-down version of Carrie's frightening, religious fanatic mother (oh so indelibly played by Piper Laurie). Amy Irving, whose Sue Snell was the sole survivor of Carrie's prom night rampage, not only gets to reprise her character (and her character's role in the story) here, she also gets to assume the guidance counselor (read: caring adult) part originally held by Betty Buckley.

With Shea and Moreu so closely following the original, needless to say there are no surprises in _The_Rage_. But even without keeping the original in mind, there's nothing shocking about the film or its climactic explosion of violence--which can be directly attributed to the attitude alteration of the protagonist. Sure, making Rachel far from a meek girl is a very '90s feminist thing to do, but it also robs her eventual bad behavior of any resonance. A lot of the power of _Carrie_'s famous prom scene is that, while some payback is clearly in order, the fury of her vengeance comes as a shock, given how weak she had been throughout the film. With Rachel, such an intense outburst is a foregone conclusion--and, accordingly, Shea ups the gore factor in the big climax. While she comes up with one especially clever domino-effect scene invoving eyeglasses and a spear gun, there's nothing particularly frightening or suspenseful as any given scene in Brian DePalma's original film.

It was undoubtedly the ties to the original _Carrie_ that got _The_Rage_ made, but, ironically, it is that connection that makes the film even worse that it already is. Not only does _The_Rage_ simply pale in comparison, the links Moreu serves up are ridiculously clunky, especially one ill-kept plot "twist" about the origin of Rachel's powers. Shea even actually goes so far as to include excerpts of the first film as random flashbacks for Sue. Worst of all, though, these ties seem completely arbitrary, serving no real purpose other than to fill time and fulfill the meager promise of the subtitle. Change a line here and there (and Irving's character name), and _The_Rage:_Carrie_2_ would be just _The_Rage_--and better for it. However, no script revisions are necessary for the film to simply be _The_Rage_; audiences will feel plenty of that once the closing crawl begins.

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