Rated R - Running time: 1:45 - Reviewed 3/18/99

It is commonplace for horror movies to have sequels, from Halloween to Friday the 13th to Scream. Why a classic like Carrie was never revisited until now is a mystery, except, one could argue, that almost no one survived Carrie, including its star. In fact, the only character who didn't die at the end of that 1976 film was Carrie's friend, Sue Snell, played by Amy Irving. Now Irving has re-created her role, 20-odd years later, of the girl who inadvertently played a part in making the massacre of Bates High School happen. In The Rage: Carrie 2, Sue Snell is the school counselor.

Written by Rafael Moreu and directed by Robert Mandel and Katt Shea, The Rage is basically the same story with different characters. In 1976, Carrie White (Sissy Spacek) was an outcast with a crazy mother, who could move objects with her mind. Her classmates played a nasty trick on her and then paid dearly for it. This film (which does not contain Spacek except in flashback form) stars newcomer Emily Bergl as Rachel, a girl at the same school with similar social problems and similar telekinetic abilities. Her mother, a schizophrenic, has been hospitalized, and she has been adopted by a foster family. A similar trick is played, with similar consequences.

Although the script is weak and much of the acting is bad enough to induce nausea, Bergl is surprisingly engaging in the lead role. She has a nice, easy reality about her, but she doesn't play the psycho thing full tilt the way Spacek did. At the end of Carrie, when Spacek went into freak-out override, her eyes bugged out, she assumed a powerful physical stance — she was a woman possessed. Of course, the fact that she had just taken a pig's-blood shower didn't hurt. When Bergl goes over the edge, she just sort of walks around in a trance. But her smile and engaging personality, earlier in the film, makes us look at her as much more a normal person than mousy, introverted Carrie ever was.

Also appearing are Jason London as Jesse, Rachel's football player boyfriend; Dylan Bruno and Zachery Ty Bryan as fellow football studs who can't understand Jesse's attraction; and Rachel Blanchard and Charlotte Lopez as the cheerleader types who vow to bring Rachel down. All these actors pale in comparison to Bergl when it comes to depth; they were hired mainly for their looks and their ability to be impaled on a steel spear and stay in character.

And that brings us to the carnage. This film is definitely bloodier than Carrie. In that film, it wasn't clear whether the people were badly hurt until the building burned with them in it. In this movie, there's no doubt: Those who are not burned alive are pierced, dismembered, and drowned right before our eyes. The final 20 minutes is pure mayhem, capped off by the film's one truly startling moment. And so it goes — another Bates High School graduation, cancelled. **

Copyright 1999 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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