JUNE 10, 2009
If enough time has passed (and, more importantly, almost no one involved returns), it’s kind of OK to basically do a remake and call it a sequel. And that is the case with The Rage: Carrie 2, which once again takes a girl with telekinetic powers (and a psycho religious mother) and unleashes her at a party where the popular kids have humiliated her, resulting in her killing everyone (including an adult who is sympathetic to her) before dying herself.
And it’s a bummer that the screenwriters lacked any originality for the most part, because at its core there’s a different story here. Things kick off differently, with Rachel (the Carrie substitute; no one is actually named Carrie in this movie) losing her best friend to suicide. And while her psycho mom is off in the institute, she is being raised by white trash foster parents. Also, the idea of high school cliques is far more prevalent. Finally, she has a boyfriend (Jason, or Jeremy London) that as far as we know, isn’t being nice to her because he’s in on the plot to humiliate her.
But the beats are just identical, which keeps the film from having its own identity. For example, Rachel is seemingly aware of her powers, yet doesn’t bother to use them until the ending, when all hell breaks loose (including another fire). The clique thing is introduced, but they never really expand on it in any meaningful way. There’s a bit where she runs to a football game, presumably to save the day, but doesn’t do anything. Why not have her use her power to help the school win the game, and have a confidant know what she’s up to? Nope, instead, the popular kids once again trick her into thinking they are her friend, an act that makes Rachel seem almost mentally disabled in the process (she’s pretty smart for the bulk of the movie, only to completely believe that a bunch of jocks and class president types think she’s great and pretty over the course of a day).
Luckily the climax makes up for it by delivering some pretty shocking gore. I actually thought this was a PG-13 movie, but that changed when Rachel began beheading and impaling people left and right. One guy gets a harpoon to (and through) his balls, and then she immolates countless others. Christ, even Amy Irving takes a spear through the head (and is impaled to a door in the process, so her corpse swings around as people use the door to escape). Speaking of Irving, some internet sites take time to point out that she’s the only returning character from the first Carrie. Well, uh, who else COULD return? Carrie killed everyone else!
Plus the end is kind of a downer. Since the boyfriend isn’t a dick this time around, he survives, but the movie ends with him in college, clearly depressed (and taking care of Rachel’s dog, who also looks depressed). Uh, yay?
Oh, I have to mention this. During the prank scene, we hear someone say in an Adam Sandler voice “They’re all going to laugh at you!”. This is what I call a paradoxical in-joke, a la the characters in H20 watching Scream. See, Sandler’s comedy bit is merely a spoof of the first film, so it doesn’t make any sense for that bit to exist in the world of the films themselves. And yes, I’m reading into this shit too much.
The film is directed by Katt Shea, who took over for Robert Mandel (F/X!!) for reasons unknown (well, besides “creative differences”). Maybe she explains it in her commentary, but the tone of her voice drove me insane, plus she was dreadfully dull, so I started tuning out. She also apparently is unaware of who directed Starman, as she points out that the DP shot “Starman, as well as some John Carpenter movies”. She also introduces a few deleted scenes in way too close close-up (zoom out, camera guy!) and a deleted version of the ending that makes no goddamn sense. Another thing that makes no sense is her black and white usage in the film, which is introduced as Rachel’s POV (is she color blind?) but is used when we actually see Rachel doing things, so I dunno.
A note on those deleted scenes - none of them are really worth looking at, though there is a scene where Rachel visits her mother in the institute that should have been kept in. Not that it’s particularly good, but it robs the film of having any scenes of the two of them together, until the very end (in which her mother plays an important role). Until that moment, I wasn’t even aware that Rachel kept in contact with her mother. Also, speaking of the film being robbed of certain thematic necessities, her jerk foster parents are never dealt with. In fact, when Rachel goes to the party, she is sneaking out (she was grounded), so they set up a conflict and never resolve it. Of course, going after the parents after the party massacre would have been even MORE of a copy of the original, but still - why bother setting something up if you’re not going to follow through? Also, why the fuck does she have tree branches all over her face when she Carries out?
So I dunno. It’s not terrible by any means, and the massacre is gory fun, but it’s ten minutes overlong, and also feels like the movie is missing a beat somewhere in the middle. Plus, the budget was reportedly 20 million, and only half of that seems to be on the screen (Repo only cost half that). Mixed bag, your call (whoever posted the Youtube trailer seems to agree - the description says "Sort of a rubbish film but meh").
What say you?