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.