Shortly before Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees and Freddy Krueger slashed their way through a new (and now much-abused) path for horror films, director Brian De Palma introduced audiences to telekinetic teen Carrie White. Based on Stephen King's first published novel, "Carrie" was a stylish yet tragic Cinderella story seeped in pig's blood. While the trio of slasher anti-heroes were revived for countless sequels, Carrie lay relatively undisturbed in her fiery grave, until now. More than 20 years after the prom from hell, the legend of Carrie White is back with "The Rage: Carrie 2."
This time around, Carrie's only appearances come in strangely juxtaposed clips from the original film, and her ability to move objects with little more than a look and a thought is transferred to her step-sister, Rachel (Emily Bergl), who is unaware of her relationship to her predecessor. Unlike Carrie, who was a believably shy and mousy outcast, Rachel's got a more confident goth thing going on. In her screen debut, Bergyl brings a surprising depth to the role and is one of the film's few positives.
The sequel basically follows the original's premise, in that Rachel is befriended by Jesse (Jason London), the Big Man on Campus, who preposterously falls in love with her. For the update, screenwriter Rafael Moreu shifts from a bitchy-girl clique to the school football team the dastardly doings that make Rachel -- and every building within 20 feet of her -- become unhinged.
Team captain Mark (Dylan Bruno) and the rest of the jocks at Bates High School, including quarterback Jesse, are much more interested in playing a game other than football. They keep a running tally of the babes they bag, earning the highest points for the undesirables. When Rachel's best friend, Lisa, becomes one of the team's targets and commits suicide as a result, Rachel exacts mortal revenge by exposing the rapist ("Home Improvement's" Zachary Ty Bryan). But she also sets herself up for humiliation by the high-school elite.
Maybe director Katt Shea ("Poison Ivy") and writer Moreu thought that dressing Rachel in black clothes and giving her a tattoo would place her in a creepy subculture that somehow made her vulnerable. But Rachel comes off as so smart and together that it's hard to believe that she would actually let herself get sucked into the revenge plan or that she would even want to be a part of the in-crowd in the first place.
Amy Irving, who was good-girl Sue Snell in the original, and the only survivor of Carrie's revenge, returns as Rachel's guidance counselor. We learn that she's spent several years being rehabilitated from the ordeal in a mental institution that now houses Rachel's addled mother. Made aware of Rachel's mental powers, Sue is suspicious and sets out to find the connection between Carrie and Rachel. Irving is wasted in this throwaway role that mirrors the sympathetic gym teacher in "Carrie" played by Betty Buckley, including her demise.
In De Palma's "Carrie," style ruled over substance, with stock characters taking a back seat to the film-making. Shea, unfortunately, brings no style to "Carrie 2." Unimaginative duplications plague the entire production, especially the ending, which is virtually verbatim. And visually, Shea's computer-graphic-enhanced finale doesn't even come close to De Palma's shriek-inducing dream sequence. An example of formulaic film-making and lost potential, "The Rage: Carrie 2" is neither scary nor suspenseful and will be a major disappointment to the legions of "Carrie" fans.