Twenty-three years later, the kids at Bates High School push a strange girl named Rachel Lang too far and all hell breaks loose again.
Rage, The: Carrie 2
Directors: Katt Shea
Producers: Paul Monash
Writers: Rafael Moreu Using Characters Created By Stephen King
Features: Widescreen, Alternate Ending With 'Before-And-After' Special Effects Sequence Plus Audio Commentary, Additional Scenes Not Shown In Theaters, Feature Length Audio Commentary By Director Katt Shea, Collectible Booklet Inside, English And French Foreign Language Subtitles, English And French: 5.1 Surround.
Rachel Lang...Emily Bergl
Jesse Ryan...Jason London
Sue Snell...Amy Irving
Eric...Zachery Ty Bryan
The problems with sequels is that they are sequels. Nobody expects much, neither the producers nor the audience. The producers are usually looking for a cheap way to make a quick buck, and figure that any sequel has a built in audience. Even if only one quarter or the original core goes to see the second film a profit can be squeezed out by keeping the budget low. From the audience's point of view, they see that a shoddy film is being proffered to them and make plans to avoid it. Of course, there is the quarter that the producers count on that have a morbid curiousity to see the sequel good or bad. With that philosophy going for it "The Rage: Carrie 2" is certainly an anomaly as it is quite an excellent film helmed by a relatively unknown director named Katt Shea using an almost equally unknown cast.
This movie is about revenge just like it's 1976 predecessor "Carrie" starring Sissy Spacek. There are many similarities that Katt Shea has chosen to embrace rather than ignore. At the same time "The Rage: Carrie 2" is vastly different. A similarity is the school being the rebuilt Bates High School. The enigmatic Ralph White is the father of Carrie White and Rachel Lang(Emily Bergl) though he is never seen. Sue Snell from the original movie is now a counselor at Bates High and still played by Amy Irving. Rachel's mother is a religious fanatic though currently committed to an asylum. Katt Shea uses many flashbacks from "Carrie." The torment of kids deemed outsiders still continues by bullies.
A difference in this movie is that the main character, Rachel, is stronger than Carrie and has her own outsider friends. She has a family, though it is a foster family. Emily appears to be in denial of her powers that cause things to move. Emily dares to fall in love. Like Romeo and Juliet she is from one strata of society and her Romeo is from another.
In this movie Katt Shea examines the different peer groups that are part of every high school. "Carrie" concerned itself with a general harrassing of a student. In "The Rage: Carrie 2" Shea shows the privileged and wealthy set of students that disassociate themselves from the have nots. In particular she sets her sights on a group of student athletes that are in a contest where points are awarded to it's members for having sex with predetermined girls. The tally is kept in a book held by Mark(Dylan Bruno). Eric(Zachery Ty Bryan) has just scored with Lisa(Mena Suvari), Rachel's best friend who has kept her new boyfriend's name a secret. Finding out about the book, Lisa throws herself off a school building. When the police investigate, Eric tells Mark that Lisa has taken a photograph of them and Emily may know where it is. At this same time another member of the student athletes, Jesse(Jason London), is getting tired of the games he is a part of and begins to see Rachel romantically. Now Rachel who is starting to recognize her telekinetic powers is under pressure from Mark to keep quiet about the suicide and her new found feelings of love. Together these forces combine to set off another cataclysmic retribution of death.
To show how strong this teenage peer pressure can be, Shea shows a glimpse of Eric's face when Lisa waves to him from afar. By the look on his face it is apparent that he genuinely likes her, but has to pretend to his boys that he thinks she is a dog like they do. When Jesse starts to see Rachel, it is a past sexual conquest of his, Tracy(Charlotte Ayanna), that emphasizes the class differences. She is furious that someone from the 'Salvation Army' can beat her out for a guy she perceives as hers. Earlier in an English class that Emily and Jesse are in together, the teacher talks about Romeo and Juliet. He says that all great loves end in tragedy, that is what makes them great loves. This is a foreshadowing of things to come.
Director Katt Shea is a very visual person. She had previously directed "Poison Ivy" with Drew Barrymore. When Rachel feels stress that releases her powers in small surges the film turns to black and white. The camera will go in and out to Rachel's face to accentuate this. There is a scene when Rachel lets Eric know she is aware of what he did that is so visceral: Eric is shown in a medium shot at his locker with the door open, then suddenly the door slams shut to reveal Rachel in the background glaring at him. Shea puts the flashbacks of the "Carrie" movie into her movie with a slash. At least that is how the impact feels. During the death knell, Shea takes a simple thing like a tattoo and turns it into something frighteningly surreal.
The actress that plays Rachel Lang is a newcomer named Emily Bergl. Shea says she had only acted in plays before and came from Chicago. She has one of those strange faces that can be pretty or look unnerving with the right kind of makeup and lighting. Her eyes are large compared to her small face. Her performance does a lot to make the movie the success it is. During the slaughter at the end of the movie she walks through it with an eerie gait though not at all like Sissy Spacek's.
The video camera is seen throughout the film as it seems it is omnipresent. Katt Shea wants to show how that camera has taken over society and even puts it into the plotline of her story. The standard camera that took Eric's picture figures in too. In her audio commentary she never addresses the use of the video camera in her film which I thought was strange. Nowadays police are brought to the carpet over a bystander's film and new laws have had to be made to cover the intrusion of the camera. With the camera cell phones there is now a new dimension of intrusion which even Katt Shea never thought of when she made this film.
This DVD contains an alternate ending with audio commentary that was changed after test audiences did not understand it. I have to agree with the test audiences. Katt Shea was happy to put her stylish ending on the movie. The DVD has additional scenes that were not shown in theaters.
There is an audio commentary of the film by Katt Shea. She talks about how she was called up by the studio to go to North Carolina and take over from another director who had already filmed for two weeks. She started over completely and it took her a week to get settled in, so she was three weeks behind schedule when she began to shoot. The cast was already in place. Shea tells of the apprehension she felt coming in as an outsider and how she slowly won the cast over. In the locker room scenes Shea wanted more male nudity as a sort of answer back to Brian DePalma for the gratuitous female nudity in "Carrie." However, males in the test audiences got upset so the scenes were trimmed. She was told by everyone not to put flashbacks of "Carrie" into her movie because somehow Sissy Spacek got to hate her role over time and would not give permission to use them. Shea did anyway figuring that somehow it would all work out. Acknowledging she was always a risk taker, Shea showed her film to Sissy Spacek who gave her the permission needed. Spacek loved it and said she would probably take her daughter to see it.
The only thing I didn't like in this movie was the locker room scenes having nearly naked males in them. I would have preferred to see the female locker room. That's just my own personal preference there. There are some very revealing scenes of Emily Bergl, but mostly from the back and sides. The picture quality and sound were perfect for this DVD.
"The Rage: Carrie 2" stands up on it's own. What may have hurt this film when it first came out at the theaters was the "Carrie" part of the title coming after "The Rage" part. It should have been the other way around. This film captures the essence of the first film, yet is so different. This movie is more a love story gone horribly wrong. Visually this movie is on a par with Brian DePalma's and just as bloody. Don't be fooled this sequel is up to the task.
I give this DVD five out of five stars.