WARNING: Do not attempt to sit through this movie without a hefty supply of psychopharmaceutical drugs. Why? Because this movie is bad. Not bad like groaning and laughing over how bad it is. It's just indescribably lame. I am depressed by the fact that mediocre crap like this exists under the guise of a sequel to possibly the best (and certainly my favorite) horror movie ever made. Is it a sequel? It certainly does its best to be so. The main character Rachel (Emily Bergl) is related to the original Carrie (a laughable plot contrivance in which Amy Irving, reprising her role as Sue Snell, tries to convince us she knows something about genetics and telekinesis). Sue Snell is now the guidance counselor at Bates High School (new building, same name). Rachel's mother is a schizophrenic religious freak, living at Arkham asylum (don't get me started on the desperate in-jokes, including references to "Rachel and Monica").
Let's get the basic plot out of the way: Rachel, who now lives with a foster family, goes to one of those high schools in which football players are the only cool people and girls line up to sleep with them (only in fiction, people!). Her best friend Lisa (Mena Suvari) happily tells her she lost her virginity. She gives the impression of being quite taken with the young man, whose name she won't reveal. Later that day, Lisa throws herself off the roof of the school (and Mena is still thanking the screenwriter for such an early). Rachel discovers who the boy is (a football player played by Zachary Ty Bryan, of "Home Improvement," whose reactions to Lisa in the first few scenes are very, very confusing). So it's the cool people vs. Rachel, with one sensitive football player falling for her (Jason London, who played a sensitive football player in the much better Dazed and Confused). Guess what happens when the cool people gang up on Rachel?
There are just so many things wrong with this movie. First and foremost, they set up Rachel's power as originating from the same source as Carrie White's. Carrie, however, didn't come into her powers until she started menstruating. Rachel seems to have had them from birth. When making a sequel to a cult classic (almost always inadvisable), don't mess with the basic premise. Rachel is also not very sympathetic. I get the whole tough girl act, and that's fine, but her best friend commits suicide and Rachel goes to work that night. Way to mourn for your friend. With Sue Snell, they intersperse "memory" shots of the prom from Carrie, as if to confer quality. And these shots aren't from Sue's point of view (although they could have been), but whatever.
The final confrontation between Rachel and her peers is very badly done. They try to tie Rachel's powers into her tattoo. (All of the kids seem to have physical totems of friendship. Are they in gangs or something?) The special effect is cool, but random. It makes no sense in the context of the movie and seems to have no basis. Rachel is telekinetic. How does that make her tattoo come to life? A lot of the special effects are random and the "horror" has no panache. Carrie White's destruction of her environment was instinctual, sympathetic, and truly awful. Rachel's brand is vengeful, purposeful, and utterly without class. There are a couple of moments that are worthwhile, but not because they represent quality filmmaking. One word of caution: If you rent this (don't buy it!), resist any impulse you might have to pause, slow, and zoom on Zachary Ty Bryan's fate. No one needs to see that.
One thing to be thankful for: If they make another sequel, Sue Snell ain't coming back!
The print is okay. There are some weird pseudo-artistic black and white interspersions, but they don't seem to have any rhyme or reason. That can be said for a lot of things in this movie, though. The sound effects are uninspired. The effect they use when Rachel closes doors telekinetically is the sound of metal scraping metal. Did I mention the part about things being random in this film? Also, when Sue goes to Arkham to bust Rachel's mother out, there's music in the background that I can only describe as 1970s "zany." They should have just made a horror movie and removed any reference to Carrie. The contrast in quality with story, design, effects, acting, everything is just appalling.
The extras on the disc consist of an audio commentary by director Katt Shea (Poison Ivy), deleted scenes with and without commentary, and an alternate ending with and without digital effects. All three of these things confirm what the movie itself led me to believe: Shea has no idea how to make a good movie, especially a good horror movie. When she explained why she deleted a scene or whatever, I almost always disagreed with her decision. One deleted scene, in particular, was left out because it was "unnecessary." However, a later scene discusses information expositioned in the cut scene. I was confused at the time I watched that later scene. The alternate ending, by the way, is just as lame as the one they finally included. Also, Shea relies too heavily on the word "interesting" during her commentary. What she refers to as "interesting," "unusual," and "different," I call "out of left field" and "confusing to the viewer."
In my opinion, any DVD starring either Jeremy or Jason London should be required by law to have actor bios. I always forget who is who.
Lisa McInnis, 8/2/00