Carrie / The Rage: Carrie 2 Blu-ray Review
Written by ZigZag
Blu-ray released by Scream Factory
Directed by David Carson
Written by Bryan Fuller
2002, 132 minutes, Not Rated
Blu-ray released on April 14th, 2014
Angela Bettis as Carrie White
Patricia Clarkson as Margaret White
Kandyse McClure as Sue Snell
Emilie de Ravin as Chris Hargensen
Tobias Mehler as Tommy Ross
Jesse Cadotte as Billy Nolan
Rena Sofer as Miss Desjarden
Katherine Isabelle as Tina Blake
David Keith as Det. John Mulchaey
Carrie White is her high school’s punchline to an endless stream of ridicule. She isn’t pretty or popular, but is socially awkward and a downer, so the other girls make a sport of bullying her at every opportunity. The latest stunt comes when Chris and Sue and the gang discovered Carrie is having her period at school and they humiliate the little freak in front of everybody with the best prank ever. They get in trouble, but it is totally worth it. A greater punishment than detention awaits Carrie when she returns home to her extremely religious and controlling mother, Margaret, who forces her to atone for her sins of being a woman.
Sue’s conscience continues to nag her and she tries to make things right by doing something nice for once. She steps outside her circle of friends and asks her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the prom in her place. Tommy reluctantly agrees and convinces the shy girl his invitation is sincere, but Chris and the others see yet another opportunity to hurt Carrie in front of a large group of her peers. What nobody expects is that this victim has recently discovered some non-traditional methods of self-defense. Carrie is determined to make a stand against her mother, her classmates and anyone else who gets in her way for this one special night. What this poor unpopular girl doesn’t understand, however, is that just because you can do something vengeful, doesn’t mean you should, and once she releases this power, she is unable to contain it.
Carrie is a new version of an old story, based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name from 1974. The tale had previously been adapted for film in 1976 with Brian De Palma directing actresses Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie in the lead roles of Carrie and her mother respectively. The original movie diverts from the source material, instead opting for a straight forward narrative with a slightly modified ending. In the 2002 version, director David Carson (Star Trek: Generations) was determined to honor the book with a more faithful adaptation. Screenwriter Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) includes various plot points omitted from the earlier film, including the mysterious falling boulders in Carrie’s youth, and explores the punishment visited upon the community in a bit more detail. Where this new version fails is in the desire to one up the De Palma film in terms of the displays of Carrie’s telekinesis. For example, if 1976 Carrie causes an obnoxious boy to simply fall off his bike and hurt his arm, then her 2002 counterpart mentally hurls the boy yards away into a tree. Also working against this production are the comically terrible CGI effects that make objects move in a “spectacular" manner, resembling mid-level 1990s video game graphics. Unfortunately, this film was a made-for-television event with hopes of launching an episodic series, so all efforts to adhere to the book are jettisoned in the ludicrous finale.
What does work however is the casting of Angela Bettis (May) in the title role. She is awkward, clumsy and highly sympathetic. She makes the role her own without standing in the shadow of Spacek. The rest of the cast does not fare as well, but the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of the director, as I have seen each of these actors deliver stronger work. Patricia Clarkson (Six Feet Under) plays Margaret as a hard-ass conservative and almost pulls it off, but the role is kind of one-note and flat under Carson’s direction. Kandyse McClure (Hemlock Grove) is out of step with much of the supporting cast as Sue Snell. The majority of her scenes take place at a police station in an after-the-fact framing device, so she is practically appearing in a different movie. Her character is too concerned with being tough and shows zero grief as someone who lost all of her friends two weeks prior. David Keith (Firestarter) is relatively worthless as Det. John Mulchaey, the cop trying to figure out what happened to Carrie White. The structure of King’s book traced a journalistic post-mortem approach to the material, introducing excerpts from police reports and court transcripts in the wake of the tragedy. Det. Mulchaey’s inclusion here is a nice attempt to employ the device, but fails to connect in part due to the abysmal conclusion.
Many beloved books suffer when adapted into films due to the necessity of paring down the content to fit within a reasonable movie length. Carrie does not benefit from the extended running time offered by the television format in part because the source material is under two hundred pages and focuses on one main event, the school prom. De Palma’s film streamlined the plot into an entertaining movie that is a self-contained success and any further adaptations feel unnecessary. I’m not saying the original is the definitive version and that all remakes are terrible, but if there is a strong movement that dismisses the 1976 film as overly flawed and in need of a re-boot, I missed it. All of this is to say that this take feels like a studio’s clumsy cash grab to fix something that wasn’t broken.
The Rage: Carrie 2
Directed by Katt Shea
Written by Rafael Moreu
1999, 104 minutes, Rated R
Emily Bergl as Rachel Lang
Amy Irving as Sue Snell
Jason London as Jesse Ryan
Dylan Bruno as Mark
Zachery Ty Bryan as Eric
Rachel Blanchard as Monica
Mena Suvari as Lisa
John Doe as Boyd
Eddie Kaye Thomas as Arnie
Sue Snell is a high school guidance counselor helping students deal with their grief in the wake of a very public suicide on school property. She is very sensitive to the emotional needs of teenagers, as she was not always the nicest person when she was their age. As a counselor, Sue attempts to make amends for her previous transgressions by reaching out to those in need. Sue is haunted by memories of her own senior prom where a shy girl named Carrie White was publicly humiliated in a prank by the popular kids. When she meets current student Rachel Lang, however, Sue senses that the girl has more problems than simply not being socially accepted. Rachel displays signs of telekinesis, just like Carrie White did before tearing down her world in a fiery, homicidal rage many years ago. Sue is determined to find out more about this new girl, in case she is likely to trigger a similar catastrophe when crossed.
Rachel has something in common with Carrie, but it has nothing to do with low self-esteem or confidence, as this young lady has plenty of both. What Rachel lacks is money and social status. She is otherwise an attractive, intelligent teenager with a small circle of friends and a job at the photomat. Her foster parents are jerks who make no bones about their acceptance of her being directly tied to the steady government check they receive. Rachel meets Jesse, a member of the football team, and the two hit it off almost immediately. The loss of her best friend Lisa is a devastating blow, but when she discovers what happened to trigger the suicide, Rachel becomes the target of an elaborate prank herself. Given the way this story is going so far and the title of the film itself, I don’t believe this is going to end well for the jerks at school.
The Rage: Carrie 2 is a direct sequel to Brian De Palma’s 1976 film Carrie, and clips of this original film frequently appear as flashbacks. Stephen King did not provide new content, but screenwriter Rafael Moreu (Hackers) manages to insert a quality love story in the middle of an unnecessary retread. Jesse and Rachel are surprisingly solid characters that make you want to see them succeed. I say this is a surprise because so many of the surrounding characters are one-note hacks that barely register beyond archetype. Moreu gets a lot of mileage from the central story until the grand finale that feels a bit forced due to the nature of the material. Where he fails in his script is the development of Sue Snell, as it feels at times the character was shoehorned in only after actress Amy Irving (The Fury) agreed to reprise the role from the first movie. Snell is a welcome addition here and the sequel offers a slightly humorous character arc for her to be a guidance counselor despite not having her own act together. Irving is the key to making this film work and is unfortunately saddled with chasing down a backstory for our female lead that is really beside the point. Moreu runs out of things to do with Snell and writes her out in an insulting manner that the film never fully recovers from, and it smacks of a sorely missed opportunity for her redemption.
Emily Bergl (Shameless) stars as Rachel Lang, the telekinetic wonder girl for a new generation. She really is the opposite of her titular predecessor and it would have been nice to see the character in a different movie, solving her problems without magic. Bergl is instantly likeable and has some nice moments with Jason London (Dazed and Confused) as her love interest Jesse. The two are at their best when they appear together and feel like real people as opposed to the cartoons that fill their school. The supporting cast members do a fine job as the token assholes, but nobody really stands out from the pack. Mena Suvari (American Beauty) and John Doe (Boogie Nights) make lasting impressions despite their limited screen time, mostly because they are stronger actors than the roles they are given as Lisa and Boyd respectively. Eddie Kaye Thomas (the Harold & Kumar franchise) appears in the small comic relief role of Arnie, and in a nice bit of casting serendipity would co-star opposite Suvari a few months later in the comedy blockbuster American Pie.
Former actress (Psycho III) turned director (Stripped to Kill) Katt Shea makes her studio debut here and does a fine job with the material. She reveals in the audio commentary on this disc that she was hired to replace a director after production had already started and had to hit the ground running. She makes the most of the material given, but Moreu’s script isn’t doing her any favors outside of the aforementioned love story angle. The forced subplot of Rachel’s biological parents is the weakest aspect, but Shea sells it reasonably well. This was unfortunately her first and only big-budget project, which is a shame as she has a talented eye and deserves another shot behind the camera. The Rage Carrie 2 is not a terrible movie, just unnecessary and ultimately forgettable.
Video and Audio:
Carrie and The Rage: Carrie II are both presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio, even though the former was a made-for-television program that was re-formatted to 1.33:1 full frame for broadcast. Each film shines with strong colors and rich blacks with decent contrast levels and do not have any noticeable problems with compression issues or source materials.
Both titles offer DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio tracks, and the expanded default mix is the way to go. Music and effects cues fill the rear channels particularly during the chaotic finale of each film.
English subtitles are provided on each movie.
The films are presented on separate Blu-ray discs and each title receives a bit of love from Scream Factory.
Carrie (2002) director David Carson is paired with cinematographer Victor Goss for a newly-recorded audio commentary that is informative if a bit dry. The two happily share production stories involving the creative decisions that went into making the feature as well as working with members of the cast. Some of the more interesting material covered comes as Carson talks about his intentions in differing this presentation from the original 1976 film version.
The original trailer is also offered for your viewing pleasure.
The Rage: Carrie 2 ports over all of the supplements from the original MGM DVD release and adds a new commentary to the presentation.
The original audio commentary with director Katt Shea is a welcome addition, as this was her first studio film and she openly discusses all of the difficulties of making the picture. She begins by acknowledging that she replaced the original director and felt the challenge of earning the respect of her cast and crew.
New to this release is an audio commentary reuniting Shea and her cinematographer Donald Morgan as the two reflect on this film fifteen years later. Moderator David DeCoteau keeps things moving and asks just enough questions to prompt really good stories. This track is even better than the previous and fans will definitely want to check it out.
Returning from the earlier disc are a collection of additional scenes (8 minutes) that do not add much to the finished film and are better left on the cutting room floor.
An alternate ending is nice to see, but it is understandable why it was dropped. There’s a nice look at the f/x work in progress here and the clip includes optional director commentary.
The theatrical trailer is also on hand to spoil most of the surprises from the film for audiences.
Grades (both films):