Rage, The: Carrie 2 (1999)

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Released 1-Nov-2000

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Audio Commentary-Katt Shea (Director)
Deleted Scenes-+/- commentary by Katt Shea
Alternate Ending-+/- CGI effects
Theatrical Trailer
Booklet
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1999
Running Time 100:24 (Case: 105)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (64:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Katt Shea
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Emily Bergl
Jason London
Dylan Bruno
J. Smith-Cameron
Amy Irving
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $34.95 Music Danny B. Harvey


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 (384Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
German for the Hearing Impaired
French
Italian
Spanish
Dutch
Portuguese
Swedish
Danish
Norwegian
Finnish
Polish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement Yes, Kodak and Pepsi
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Young Rachel Lang (Kayla Campbell) goes into a foster home after her mother Barbara (J. Smith-Cameron) is carted away to Arkham Asylum for her emotional instability. Now a teenager, we see that Rachel (Emily Bergl) has become shy and withdrawn after being bullied by her foster parents and shunned by her classmates she is an outsider in a world where those swimming against the mainstream must fight for every morsel of acceptance. After Rachel loses her closest friend Lisa (played by the ubiquitous Mena Suvari), fate brings a potential boyfriend into her life when school footballer Jesse Ryan (Jason London) drives Rachel and her injured dog Walter to the vet. Their nascent romance causes friction between Jesse and his b****y 'in-crowd' friends, who subsequently hatch a scheme that promises to eject Rachel from their social environs once and for all. Rachel's latent telekinetic ability, which so far had only manifested itself unbidden during moments of stress, takes full flight when her rage and fury reaches critical mass. The only person who gets wind of the oncoming tragedy is guidance counsellor Sue Snell (Amy Irving), one of the few survivors of the mayhem unleashed 15 years earlier, under similar circumstances by someone who may actually be Rachel's blood relative.

The Rage: Carrie 2 is a virtual remake of Brian DePalma's now legendary horror film adaptation of the novel that took Stephen King from poverty to prosperity. Again we have the outcast school girl who suffers indignities and harassment from those around her, although posing Rachel as a goth and illustrating her alternative music tastes for Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails neatly removes the need for alienation sequences such as Carrie White's menstruation ordeal ("Plug it up! Plug it up!") in the first film. Once again the protagonist has a religious zealot for a mother (a slant added by the director), and is also befriended by a popular and handsome beau (first played by William Katt) in time to attend another big event during which her character is humiliated into destroying her antagonists. There's even a 'shock' epilogue. Apart from devising subplots and basic characterization, writer Rafael Moreau (Hackers) deserves little credit for any touchdowns that Carrie 2 manages to score.

The cast of unknowns and half-knowns turn in generally excellent performances, or at least a level of professionalism out of all proportion to MGM/UA's schlock-horror expectations what else can one conclude when on paper Moreau's script must have looked like just another teen market seat filler? Stage and one-time TV actor Emily Bergl is outstanding as Rachel. She is equally adept at handling her character's times of distress as she is at the tender relationship with Jason London's Jesse. Real-life chemistry between the pair also helps to make their love affair believable. The supporting players include Jesse's school friends Mark (Dylan Bruno from Saving Private Ryan), Eric (Zachery Ty Bryan from Home Improvement), Tracy (Charlotte Ayanna from Jawbreaker), and Monica (Rachel Blanchard from Road Trip), not to mention J. Smith-Cameron (from First Wive's Club among others) as Rachel's Christian fundamentalist mother, and of course Amy Irving reprising her part as Sue. Fans of American Pie will also spot Eddie Kaye Thomas (Finch) in a bit part as Arnie, Rachel's other alterno friend. Sissy Spacek was apparently offered a cameo role but she declined, initially not wanting anything to do with the project at all, even to the point of forbidding the use of her Carrie flashbacks.

Director Katt Shea (Poison Ivy, Stripped to Kill) joined the production two weeks after the original director Robert Mandel walked off. Faced with winning over a suspicious cast and crew, and reshooting the first two weeks of footage in the current schedule, Shea persisted with her approach to the material and as a result, she may be responsible for the attention to character that elevates this film beyond its B-grade heritage. Even when the pyrotechnic carnage reaches absurd heights, the groundwork done earlier prevents The Rage: Carrie 2 from descending into the farce that may have eventuated in less sensitive hands. Gore fans also get an unexpected payoff during the bloody climax: something to keep in mind if dialogue bores you.

Good horror, be it literature or film, works best when the audience identifies with the characters. A car crash that kills two people you know will devastate you more than a plane crash that kills 200 strangers. The Rage: Carrie 2 is a fine example of a horror film that tries to transcend its hackneyed roots to make the audience feel something more than just a craving for another box of popcorn. It's just a pity that the hard work was wasted on an unnecessary, ill-advised sequel to a film that was impossible to match, instead of an original screenplay or novel adaptation. The terrific Spanish production of Ramsey Campbell's novel The Nameless, which I saw at a film festival in Leeds (UK) a few weeks ago, shows that there are rich, untapped horror deposits out there. After all, isn't that what happened with Carrie? Duh.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

This matted presentation is framed at exactly 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. As far as picture quality goes this is surely one of the best transfers a horror film has received to date. Others that come to mind are Anchor Bay's amazing overhaul of Deep Red and Artisan's release of eXistenZ.

Details are evident in every frame thanks to the exceedingly sharp, high resolution image. Like all the best transfers, you just don't get a sense that you are watching video, digital or otherwise. Hair detail, facial blemishes, North Carolina greenery, football helmets, and wood textures are all rendered keenly. Blacks are mostly solid, there is no hint of edge enhancement, and shadow detail is excellent, which is good considering how gloomily many of the interior shots are lit. I'd have serious eye problems if my classrooms were as dark as the one used for Rachel's English lesson.

Colour saturation was fine, with the big splashes of blue and red posing no noise or colour bleed problems. Flesh tones were also accurate in all of the varied lighting conditions.

Sorry to be a bore, but no, there were no scratches, speckles, film grain, compression artefacts, macro blocking, misaligned frames, aliasing shimmer, telecine wobble, alignment circles, torn frames, overexposed areas, coffee stains, sprocket holes, fingerprints, or any other phenomena or body fluids blemishing the image. The source materials must have been absolutely pristine.

The RSDL layer change at 64:27 initially crashed my Marantz 7000 player. After I had opened the windows to let all the smoke out, I tried again. Thankfully the second time through, and during the commentary run, there were no problems, so the dummy spit must have been a one-off glitch. The change occurs on a static shot of a house at sunset, just after some dialogue ends, thus it is a well-placed break.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

Complementing the smashing video transfer is an equally window-rattling Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack compressed at the lower 384 Kb/s rate. One wonders how a 448 Kb/s variant would sound.

Dialogue was always clear and in sync. As pointed out by Katt Shea on the commentary, some examples of ADR were so good that I for one did not spot them.

The fronts, surrounds, and subwoofer were kept busy with all manner of ambient sounds and effects, most notably the sudden noises that accompany Rachel's uncontrolled psionic outbursts. Seemingly tacky at first, these effects put you on edge as you anticipate the next incident. The dynamic range was very good indeed, together with excellent overall fidelity, imaging, a wide front stage, and a convincing soundfield. This is a fluid soundtrack indeed, yet restrained enough to avoid drawing attention to itself too often.

Danny Harvey's original music integrates well with the effects and dialogue, lending the right overtones to each scene in which it is heard, though none of it is particularly memorable after the event. The various grunge and nostalgia tunes also sit well in the mix.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menus

These are 16x9 enhanced, without background music or animation. The feature starts automatically after about 5-10 minutes.

Audio Commentary by Katt Shea (Director)

Katt Shea provides an absorbing commentary, broken by perhaps 5 minutes of silence in total. Her tone is one you might hear in person at a snooker tournament as a commentator attempts to explain what is happening and what the players are thinking, without disturbing the proceedings.

She touches upon her late arrival on the project; the insistence that flashbacks to Carrie should stay, along with the news that Sissy Spacek approved the use of her flashbacks after seeing and liking the finished product; the cast and crew anecdotes; and various plot and character motivation issues. When she implies that her film has the same stuff that made Frankenstein and Carrie enduring favourites she is perhaps sloshing over the rims, so to speak, but her genuine admiration for her co-workers and the film itself indicates a well-meaning if sometimes misguided talent at work. In light of her resume, The Rage: Carrie 2 is an unqualified success. Anyway, listen to this track and judge for yourself.

Theatrical Trailer (2:03)

16x9 enhanced and framed at roughly 1.85:1, the trailer looks almost as good as the feature. The sound is Dolby Digital 2.0.

Deleted Scenes (director intro 2:25, and three scenes totalling 7:08)

'Intro' has director Katt Shea showing her joy at being allowed to present the deleted scenes on DVD. The deleted scenes come with or without commentary from Shea, and are shown full frame, unmatted, timecoded, with Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. The picture quality is quite poor, indicating a video tape or linear editing file source.

'Rachel and Mom in Mental Hospital' reveals that mother and daughter have a close connection that one day will be realized further when Mom is released.

'Are You Dawg?' shows the Bulldogs football team getting hyped during a training session by chewing on raw meat. Someone please tell me this never happens for real.

'Bowling and Dinner Date' fills in a twilight zone between scenes of Rachel getting ready for the first big date with Jesse, who picks her up at her house, and them kissing in the lounge room after the date. Shea said the date scenes were extraneous. Perhaps a montage would have created a smoother transition.

Alternate Ending (1:02)

The surprise ending originally featured a CGI snake. A montage of various stages of the effect are provided here with commentary by Katt Shea (Dolby Digital 2.0). Presented full frame, the picture quality is fairly good.

Booklet (4 pages)

This contains some production notes. MGM are still being lazy about their widescreen vs standard ratio comparison graphic. Every film released by MGM on DVD appears to be 2.35:1!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

The R4 version misses out on: I was unable to determine whether the R1 DVD has a Dolby Digital 5.1 track compressed to 448 Kb/s, but this is a possibility given the state of previous space greedy, PAL-world releases. At any rate, it's clear that the Region 4 version is the one to get unless you have to own a pan and scan copy.

Summary

The Rage: Carrie 2 overcomes its weak, derivative plot to present an effective high school drama that's reminiscent of a Dawson's Creek episode, married to an unexpectedly savage finale. All in all, this modest film is an engaging, if at times tacky and achingly predictable, surprise hit that is certainly worth a Saturday night rental. Note to reviewers: the name "Arkham" was first used by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft in the 1930s. The creators of recent Batman comics have nothing to get upset about.

MGM Home Entertainment have delivered the goods in this package, which contains the same stunning video transfer as the Region 1 counterpart, along with a great surround sound track and the same bunch of extras. Helpfully, the film is split into 40 chapters, though the package incorrectly states that English is the only language option.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Rod Williams (Suss out my biography if you dare)
Friday, November 03, 2000
Review Equipment
DVDMarantz DV-7000 (European model), using RGB output
DisplayLoewe Ergo (81cm). This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderDenon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital decoder.
AmplificationArcam AV50 5 x 50W amplifier
SpeakersFront: ALR/Jordan Entry 5M, Centre: ALR/Jordan 4M, Rear: ALR/Jordan Entry 2M, Subwoofer: B&W ASW-1000 (active)

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