Wednesday, March 17, 1999

The Rage: Carrie 2

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 1999 at 12:00 AM

The truth is that, after the uncanny success of Brian DePalma’s Carrie, this sequel — and its uninspired title — sounded like a really bad idea. After all, who can forget the ethereal Sissy Spacek drenched in blood in the middle of the stage; the bewildered look on her face; the quiet fury gathering — like clouds before the final storm — inside her clear blue eyes? Who can forget her hand coming out of the grave, the flames, the screaming?

It was Carrie that changed the status of the horror movie forever: the way we look at it, the questions we ask, the expectations we have of its characters. It was Carrie, angelic Carrie starved for affection, intense, terrifying — both victim and executioner — whose silhouette we remember against the devastation of the flames. So, why the sequel?

The answer is simple: Why not? It’s not like Hollywood has any respect for the splendid-hence-better-left-alone flick, especially when, at the end of the original movie, there’s someone still breathing — Amy Irving’s Sue Snell in this case — someone whose story can trigger similar events 20 years later.

But, despite the odds against it, Katt Shea’s The Rage accomplishes a number of things: It pays homage to Carrie in striking flashbacks experienced by Sue Snell, now the high school’s psychologist. It takes chances with the emotional territory it portrays — a brutal high school of the ’90s seen as the perfect stage for tales of horror and utter desolation. It refuses its main character, Rachel (Emily Bergl), the status of victim. And it seems to be somewhat amused by its limitations as a sequel released against a cinematic landscape suffocated by teenage horror: "So, what’s your favorite scary movie?" a prank caller asks Rachel.

It’s also true that — tired of dark Heathers, crafty lasses and faculty outsiders, not to mention the Practical Magic touch — we hoped that Rachel would stand out for other reasons than the goth look. But since The Rage is nothing more than it claims to be — "the universal fantasy of getting revenge on one’s persecutors with the aid of superhuman powers" — we can forgive and forget.

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