The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999)

Who thought this was a good idea? A sequel to a fondly remembered horror movie that’s being made over twenty years later with a different crew and only one actor reprising her role? I suppose there are worse ideas, but if you want to do justice from the first film, this isn’t the way to go about it. In fact, it feels like the plot wasn’t going to have anything to do with Carrie until late in the process, where the filmmakers were told that was the only way they’d get funding. Such is life.

The Rage: Carrie 2 is actually similar in structure to its predecessor, just without many references to it apart from the appearance of Sue Snell (Amy Irving), who is now a guidance counselor at the local high school, random flashbacks showing Sissy Spacek — reminding us of a better film — and a mid-game plot twist that’s hammered in just so that the film can claim to have a genuine reason for its lead character, Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl) to have telekinesis. It’s likely the film began as a Carrie knockoff before the studio turned it into a sequel.

The plot goes much like you’d expect, except most of the more shocking or controversial elements from the first film have been trimmed down or almost entirely removed. Rachel is nowhere near as disliked or unpopular as Carrie was in the original; she’s only truly bullied in a couple of scenes, and even the one that pushes her over the edge isn’t motivated too well. When Carrie lost it, we understood. Here, we understand it has to happen for the plot, but it comes more out of nowhere than it should.

Apart from that, there’s far less religious symbolism and focus. In fact, Sue gets a whole line to explain to Rachel that she is not possessed by the devil. She just happens to have telekinesis, and there are people who could maybe help her control that. I suppose I can see where Sue’s coming from here, given what Carrie did many years earlier, but Rachel had displayed no signs of being close to snapping, and her character wasn’t unpopular by any means.

A prominent plot point winds up being the high school football team inventing a game in which they attempt to have sex with all of the girls at school, and award each other points for doing so. This is purportedly based on a real scandal from 1993, and was likely the focal point of the first draft of the script. That has to be somehow shoehorned in so that it will in some way affect Rachel, and it just doesn’t work organically. It feels forced and that’s part of the reason the mandatory “kill everything in sight” scene doesn’t come across as properly motivated.

Much of The Rage simply comes across as an inferior version of the original. Any new thoughts or ideas are drowned out by the film needing to relate itself to Carrie. The flashbacks are almost all unnecessary. There’s some black and white photography that should serve a purpose, but it doesn’t because it’s used inconsistently. That could have given the film a unique visual style but instead comes across as an amateur attempting to act as an auteur.

I’ll admit that the climax is kind of fun. Rachel winds up being quite menacing — she has these weird vein-like things all over her body, for no reason other than to make her seem scarier — the special effects are fine, and there are some creative kills. But you don’t want to sit through 90 minutes of mediocrity to see 10 minutes of “kind of fun,” or at least I’d hope you can find something better to do with your life. The original film is pretty great from start to finish, so you could always just watch that again.

Most of the acting is also pretty bad. It wasn’t great in Carrie, either, but there are no big names and apart from Bergl in the leading role, everyone is just pretty bad. Bergl’s character winds up dating a guy played by Jason London for most of the film, and they have no chemistry at all. Amy Irving seems to have regressed in the 20+ years between movies. Most of the young actors should either take lessons or look for another profession. Bergl shows a bit of potential here and there, and is about the only positive one can find in group of actors.

None of this is scary, none of it works as social commentary, there’s no potential to have an emotional involvement with anyone in the film, and it’s all essentially a worthless outing. It’s not bad, per se, and if all you want is a C-grade knockoff of Carrie, then you’re not going to have a terrible time. But if you want a worthy sequel to a horror classic, or even just a good movie, you’ll be disappointed. The Rage: Carrie 2 can pass the time, but that’s about it. You’re better of just re-watching the original.

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