Saturday 6 April 2019

Dark Eyes Retrovision #14: The Rage: Carrie 2 (USA 1999: Dir Kat Shea)

We've all seen Brian de Palma's 1976 shockfest Carrie, right? And I'm sure the thing we all thought at the end of the movie was 'wow, I can't wait for the sequel!' You didn't? Well one got made anyway, and it's a weird one all right.

Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl, superb) is a young girl with a religion obsessed mother and the gift of telekinesis - sound familiar? Put into care as a child after mum was committed to an asylum, Rachel is now a high school student. Sure she can perform little tricks with her mind like making a snow globe explode, but her real problems in life are caused by the knuckledraggers of the football squad. Said goons keep a book on the ratings of girls they have slept with; Rachel's friend Lisa finds out she's in the book and takes it badly, throwing herself off the roof of the school.

Meanwhile school psychologist Sue Snell (does that character name ring a bell? Yes it's Amy Irving, reprising her role from Carrie) thinks that something's a little off about Rachel, and makes it her business to find out about the schoolgirl's past. Snell was Carrie White's friend from the original movie - "I tried to help someone and it backfired horribly," she confides in a line of consummate understatement - and she sees in Rachel some familiar behaviours. But Rachel's about to fall foul of the football jocks when star player Jesse (Jason London) falls for her; the guys hatch a plan for revenge on our heroine, which in turn unleashes Rachel's power.

Director Kat Shea was parachuted into the film shortly after shooting began, replacing Robert Mandel who left the project citing the good old 'creative differences' line. In one of the two commentaries that come with this Blu Ray release from 88 Films, Shea talks about reshooting a number of scenes to lighten the mood a little (the film's working title was The Curse). And The Rage is probably best seen as a quirky high school drama, which for much of the time it is - the jocks storyline was apparently inspired by a real life incident. What this film isn't is a horror movie, rendered so in part because of the ludicrous reveal about half way through that Rachel and Carrie share the same father, who, wait for it, has passed on the telekinesis as some kind of transmittable disease carried by the male line (if de Palma was dead, he'd be doing the hokey cokey in the grave for that one).

The Rage pretty much follows Carrie plot development by plot development, complete with religious nut mother, an elaborate prank by the cool kids which goes wrong, and a fiery finish. As Rachel Emily Bergl is extremely effective if  a little too pretty and wholesome to be the shunned geek she's made out to be, and her romance with Jesse isn't quite the opposites attract relationship it was maybe portrayed in the script. The rage that comes on Rachel in the final reel provokes a scene which is a shadow of its originator's counterpart, and the perhaps unwise decision to include scenes from Carrie to illustrate Snell's flashbacks draws unwelcome comparisons between the two movies. Although Amy Irving's part feels shoehorned in to establish a connection with the original film, she makes a good job of the older Sue Snell, and brings more gravitas arguably than the film deserves.

Despite its problems The Rage isn't an unwatchable film. Shea has done a good job with a project she clearly had to rescue, and if you can ignore the overall daftness of the concept it's well paced and reasonably entertaining, if, well, a bit unnecessary.

The Rage: Carrie 2 is released on Blu Ray by 88 Films on 8 April 2019. Extras include: two commentaries (one with director Kat Shea on her own and another with Shea and Director of Photography Donald Morgan); the alternate ending (so pleased they dropped this); deleted scenes; trailer.


  1. The story of the sequel looks amazing to me. The character of Rachel and the suspense in the entire story really made my interest in the story escalate!

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