Having a Bad Day



Directed by Katt Shea

Starring Amy Irving, Emily Bergl,

Jason London

United Artists


For 23 years, Carrie--Brian De Palma's chilling film based upon the Stephen King novel-has enjoyed a privilege most horror films do not: the right to stand on its own, untarnished by painfully lame sequels. That is, until now.

The Rage: Carrie 2 is a decidedly unnecessary movie that surely was made only to cash in on the revived popularity of teen slasher flicks in the post Scream age. But even the teen audience may not fall for this uninspired and unoriginal clunker of a film.

The action centers on Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl), a shy Goth chick attending the very same high school that Carrie (whose relationship to Rachel is revealed mid-film) burned down so many years ago. As it turns out, Rachel harbors the very same telekinetic power Carrie did--a frightening fact understood only by the school guidance counselor, Sue Snell (Amy Irving), who also happens to be the sole survivor of the original film.

When Rachel's best friend commits suicide, the only classmate who reaches out to her is a compassionate football hunk (Jason London). The rest of the school tricks and torments Rachel, which really does not turn out to be such a smart move. After all, as the ad copy proclaims, "making Rachel angry could prove to be fatal."

The fact that the fiery climax is a forgone conclusion is just one of the reasons Carrie 2 is largely devoid of suspense or dramatic tension. There is also its tendency to substitute black and white images and spooky lighting for any real frights. Moreover, we don't even really care when the high school jerks finally get what they deserve. The evil jocks and cheerleaders are certainly horrid--for example, the guys think videotaping the girls' derrieres is a productive extracurricular activity--but the antagonists are far too cartoonish to truly be resented.

As the film drags towards its conclusion, we cannot help but think we have seen it all before. The truth is, we more or less have: writer Rafael Moreu and director Katt Shea were apparently not big on new ideas. The sequel ads nothing to the telekinetic premise of the original; it is content to revive what worked the first time and then make awkward references to the predecessor. The attempt at imitation fails: Carrie 2 lacks the frightening sense of isolation and revenge that made Carrie what it was. Worse, even the painful high school culture illustrated here was portrayed more convincingly in other very recent teen films like Varsity Blues and She's All That.

Carrie 2 ultimately returns to the general realm of watchability thanks to some tender romantic moments, the undeniable appeal of witnessing an annoying sports jock get racked and--most significantly--by the admirable lead performance of newcomer Bergl. Bergl gives Rachel genuine complexity of emotion; she conveys a mixture of strength and vulnerability that suits the role well.

The rest of the characters, however, are one-dimensional to the extreme--and, like the film, forgotten quickly. If, after reading this, you still have a burning desire to see all those popular high school kids go up in flames, rent the first Carrie and skip this useless update. Believe me, it was a lot more satisfying the first time around.

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