The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999) d. Katt Shea (USA)
No one would deny that attempting a sequel to Brian De Palma’s sensational screen version of Stephen King’s breakthrough novel is a pretty thankless gig, but screenwriter Rafael Moreu’s approach is so clumsy one can only wonder what the rejected ideas looked like. In the town next door, another odd duck female adolescent, Rachel (Emily Bergl), experiences the rise of telekinetic powers coinciding with her sexual maturity, and wouldn’t you know it, mom J. Smith-Cameron is a Christian loony toon just like Piper Laurie in the 1976 film. (I’m not sure if the “rage” of the title is supposed to be a riff on “Rache” – I’m going to ignore it so I don’t have to slap anyone.)
Sue Snell (played again by Amy Irving), the lone survivor of the Bates High School Pig Blood n’ Fiery Death Prom, is back as Bergl’s high school guidance counselor, and wouldn’t you know it, she’s still a little shook up over having seen her classmates crisped 22 year earlier. When she starts to notice that her goth chick charge exhibits the ability to mentally move things about, Irving wonders if there could be a connection between Carrie White and Rachel Lang. Well, of course there is, the kind of link that could only occur in sequel-land. Seems they have the same father, one who carries the telekinetic gene in his loins, which likely means that the randy dan has peopled the whole valley with snow globe-crushing and locker door-slamming offspring.
But instead of pursuing this potentially intriguing premise, Moreu and director Katt Shea are content to recreate the same by-the-numbers character arc as before: watching a shy social outcast blossom, have her dreams smashed to pieces by cruel peers, whereupon she rips the joint up and burns it all down. Mean girls Nancy Allen and P.J. Soles have been replaced by meathead jocks Zachery Ty Bryan and Dylan Bruno who log their sexual conquests in a competitive “scorebook,” mom’s been incarcerated in a mental asylum, and the relationship between handsome stud Jason London and Bergl is emotionally genuine (as opposed to an act of contrition), but one wishes that all involved would have explored fresher ideas instead of aping what went before. (One also wishes a kibosh could have been put on the “authentic” teen dialogue, which was probably dated from the get, Yo. Word.)
For the most part, Shea (Stripped to Kill) directs the action efficiently, although her attempts to inject a little style into the mix via some puzzling black-and-white sequences don’t seem motivated by anything other than boredom. On the other side of the camera, Mena Suvari, who enjoyed a flag-waving 1999 with American Pie, American Virgin and American Beauty, appears in a brief but significant role as Rachel’s best friend (the two share matching rose tattoos, leading to a creative but ultimately silly set-piece that leaves Bergl looking like she’s been attacked by a third-grader with a Sharpie.)
While the third act definitely delivers the object-flinging, blood-slinging goods, the sequel’s redundancies and ham-fisted plotline are its biggest distractions/demerits; a complete do-over or blatant rip-off might have played better than Moreu’s combination of the two. As it stands, The Rage is a decent telekinetic-chick-flick, but doesn’t deserve its pedigree when cheap thrills are all it has to sell.