Clandestinely campy "Carrie" sequel deadpans for horror fans
There are folks out there who like to rent "Carrie," the unintentionally high camp 1976 horror movie, get a group of friends together and treat it like "Rocky Horror."
You know who you are.
You're the people that are even more dubious than the average movie fan of "The Rage: Carrie 2" (a bad idea to be sure), and have crossed your fingers that it won't be a disaster of copy cat-ism or overt self-consciousness.
Well, I'm here to tell you they got it right.
Writer Rafael Moreu ("Hackers") and director Katt Shea ("Poison Ivy") are part of your club. Their movie is full of joyously understated self-mockery, they know from camp and they know exactly when to put the pedal to the metal and bring out the buckets of blood.
Here's the story:
Rachel (film frosh Emily Bergl) is a dour high school outcast (as demonstrated by dyed black hair and form-fitting henna-print tops) who lives in a peeling paint house with her abusive white trash foster parents.
She has two friends, Walter, her basset hound and Lisa, a goth cutie who just made the mistake of losing her cherry to one of a group of jocks who are competing to see how many girls they can bag.
When the sporto blows her off the next day, Lisa does a header from the high school roof into the windshield of a Buick, which subsequently makes Rachel an emotional wreck -- and brother, you don't want Rachel to get upset.
Turns out Rachel is the similarly-empowered half-sister (same dad) of Carrie White, the telekinetic played by Sissy Spacek in 1976 whose systematic humiliation by her peers in the original "Carrie" lead to a supernatural prom massacre that redefined the term "blood bath" in the lexicon of pop culture.
Rachel doesn't know her lineage, of course, but school counselor Sue Snell gets a sneaking suspicion after seeing the girl's unwieldy powers rear up for a moment in the wake of her friend's suicide. Sue Snell should know, played by Amy Irving (reviving her role from the original), she was the only survivor of Carrie's teen angst rampage 23 years before.
Sue is a little worried about Rachel since she seems to get picked on by a bunch of interchangeable cheerleaders and jocks cloned from the casts of other entries in the recent teen flick revival. They're played by, among others, Charlotte Ayanna (Miss Teen USA 1993), Rachel Blanchard (UPN's "Clueless") and a very beefy Zachery Ty Bryan, late of "Home Improvement."
Naturally, these clique kids are heartless snobs, and they only become worse when a romance blossoms between emotionally armored Rachel and The Sensitive Jock (Jason London), who really likes her in spite of the unfriendly ribbing he takes from his chums.
Liberally sprinkled with Irving's flashbacks to the original "Carrie," flashes of grainy black and white, and pulsing, wah-wah close-ups when Rachel is about to do her thing, "The Rage" is so sly with the comedy that it almost make one wonder if the laughs are unintentional. (Beheadings by airborne CDs? They can't be serious!)
Even though it's unavoidable that the first 95 minutes of the movie amounts to nothing more than waiting for the inevitably bloody payoff, "The Rage" manages to be fairly entertaining along the way, poking fun at the teen flick genre with deliberately clichéd crises ("If I don't get in to a good college, my dad's gonna kill me," one ball player whines) and ironically stock scenes.
At times it plays like MTV's "Daria" as a horror movie. One of the jocks even carries a football with him to English class, where they're studying -- what else? -- "Romeo and Juliet."
And when it does come to that inevitable climax, it takes place during a pool party at a rich kid's house, prefaced by the obligatory observation, "If this house gets trashed, heads are gonna roll." (Little does he know!)
"The Rage" is not just for the strangely rabid fans of the original "Carrie." It's at least as much post-modern horror (a la "Scream") as it is genre pedigree. But that pedigree allows it to be more subtly ironic that the other such flicks. Besides, "Scream" didn't have Amy Irving, did it? And "Carrie" fans, you'll never believe what happens to her.
I cannot in good conscience give a movie this dumb a "must see" recommendation. But I will say this: I had a great time, and when it comes out on video I hope one of those crazy "Carrie" people invites me to the double feature popcorn party.