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Requel Welshes

[whitespace] The Rage: Carrie 2
Jon Farmer

Goth to Go Now: Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl) knows how to fight back when her school chums give her a hard time in 'The Rage: Carrie 2.'

'The Rage: Carrie 2' features a Goth-lite telekinetic taking a revenge you've seen before

By Richard von Busack

A REMAKE DISGUISED as a sequel: a requel. The Rage: Carrie 2 has the same plot as the 1976 classic about a telekinetic high school girl's fearsome revenge on her peer persecutors. (For purposes of comparison, the original is showing in a new print at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco, April 2-8.) Emily Bergl stars as Rachel, sired by the same father as the original Carrie. After her best friend commits suicide, Rachel begins to manifest telekinetic behavior. Rachel's school counselor, Sue (Amy Irving), is, by coincidence, the lone survivor of the original Carrie White massacre. Claiming that the telepathic gene is passed by the male (eh?), Sue spends the film's running time trying to calm down Rachel and head off that psychic volcano--scheduled, paid for and delivered in the last moments of the movie.

Bergl's broad forehead and pale eyebrows give her a certain moon-faced spookiness. But The Rage sums up that Stan Freberg comment that the movies look for stories about attractive people with attractive problems. Young Master & Miss Demographic hate nerds even more than they hate foreigners. So it was decided that Rachel should be beautiful, slender, chicly dressed--despite the line about what a slob she is. Rachel is ever so slightly a Goth; we know she's meant to be one, because she has a tattoo and a Marilyn Manson poster. By taking away Carrie White's fragile, unredeemable misfitness (so tenderly emoted by Sissy Spacek), they've given the 1999 requel much less dramatic tension. Why would a Goth, even an ever-so-slight Goth, be scared of having telekinetic powers?

Scriptwriter Rafael Moreu came up with one interesting twist on the tale. This time, the girl's persecutors are the football team. The Rage: Carrie 2 is at its smartest when director Katt Shea turns her attention to the world of the Norman Bates High School Bulldogs, whose rituals include baring their bottoms and shaving their heads. Shea observes these repulsively macho customs without cheap humor and with a fascinated horror missing from the impalements and explosions of the finale.

This glorified act of cinematic plagiarism is exposed by the way the filmmakers have added clips from the original Carrie as "flashbacks." These are clips in which you see the blood-drenched Spacek, with dinner-plate-size eyes, wandering through her inferno. Forty-five seconds of the original are more terrifying than an hour and a half of this dull, badly photographed cash cow. Stephen King and Brian De Palma have done all the work for these shucksters. By showing scenes of how much better the original was, they've done the work for me.

The Rage: Carrie 2 (R; 104 min.), directed by Katt Shea, written by Rafael Moreu, photographed by Rafael Moreu and starring Emily Bergl and Amy Irving.

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From the March 18-24, 1999 issue of Metro.

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