Better than an opportunistic sequel has any right to be, but still pretty flawed, The Rage: Carrie 2 picks up the story of Brian DePalma's excellent Stephen King adaptation some two decades after Sissy Spacek brought down the house as the titular blood-drenched, telekinetic misfit. Unfortunately, it doesn't pick things up so much as it re-creates them; the second half of this sequel, directed by Katt Shea (Poison Ivy), virtually remakes DePalma's film. But at least it re-creates it in a largely interesting way. In a notable (and potentially overlooked) debut, Emily Bergl effectively and convincingly plays a more confident variation on the Spacek character who, after the suicide of her best friend, finds herself pitted against a group of football players involved in a degrading sex-for-points contest. On hand from the original is Amy Irving, now a school counselor seeking to avoid a repeat of the tragedy she witnessed in the original. Maybe she should have simply tried to block production of the film; an air of inevitably hangs heavily over The Rage like a precariously strung mirror ball in a streamer-bedecked gymnasium. But as unnecessary as The Rage is, it still has quite a bit going for it. Shea makes the film's hellish high-school environment seem believable, evoking sympathy for her heroine in ways more complicated than mere pity—something DePalma didn't quite pull off. The romance between Bergl and a sweet, if suspiciously post-collegiate looking, renegade football player (Jason London) works, as well, and the overdetermined Grand Guignol finale delivers some truly visceral thrills. Unfortunately, however, the flashbacks to the superior original provide frequent reminders that, as either a first-rate rip-off or a second-rate sequel, The Rage doesn't quite measure up.
More from The A.V. Club