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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Carrie / The Rage: Carrie 2 (Blu-ray)
Carrie / The Rage: Carrie 2 (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // R // April 14, 2015 // Region A
List Price: $24.97 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ian Jane | posted April 7, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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The Movies:

Shout! Factory, through their Scream Factory imprint, pairs up the 2002 made for TV adaptation of Stephen King's Carrie with the 1999 sequel to Brian De Palma's 1976 classic.

Carrie (2002):

Directed by David Carson, this 2002 film tells the story of Carrie White (Angela Bettis), a high school girl who just can't catch a break. Her peers constantly pick on her and her mother, Margaret (Patricia Clarkson), is a religious nut-job who finds any excuse that she can to put the poor girl down. When Carrie starts menstruating and starts to worry that it's a medical problem, she's tormented by the other girls in the locker room, all of whom are, in some ways at least, more worldly than she. Making matters worse, these girls just aren't going to leave it be, instead the next morning Carrie opens her locker to find it filled with tampons and the poor girl is, quite understandably, humiliated.

When the phys ed teacher, Miss Desjarden (Rena Sofer), lays into the guilty parties and calls them on their horrible behavior, it looks like Carrie's chief rival, Sue Snell (Kandyse McClure), is actually going to try and make amends. She starts acting nice to Carrie and as the prom approaches, even encourages her to go to the dance with her boyfriend, but as everyone knows, that's not going to go as planned for anyone involved in any of this…

A more literal adaptation of the original King novel, this version of Carrie is decent enough for what it is. Given that it was a made for TV movie (and that it plays within the confines of a TV movie, meaning nothing here ever approaches an R-rating) it, like a lot of TV content of its time, suffers in the digital effects department. Not everything is particularly convincing here and in fact some of the effects work is just plain bad to the point where it can be unintentionally funny. Where this version succeeds, however, is not just in its stricter adherence to the source material (which it tosses away towards the ending in an attempt to setup a TV series that never happened) but in its performances.

Rena Sofer is decent as Miss Desjarden and Kandyse McClure plays the ‘queen bitch' of the high school really well but it's Patricia Clarkson and Angela Bettis who do most of the heavy lifting here. Clarkson eschews the manic style of performance that we see in De Palma's film in favor of a more subtle, restrained take on Margaret and it works. You never get the impression she's aping Piper Laurie's iconic take on the character, she really does a fine job of making it her own. Angela Betties absolutely has the right look for a character like Carrie White and she's got the acting chops to deliver some solid work here as well. There are moments where she comes across as a bit too quirky and weird for her own good but once the plot really starts rolling and we come to realize who and what Carrie really is, Bettis turns in a pretty memorable performance.

This is a decent enough take on King's book. Not a masterpiece by any stretch of the word, but decent.

The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999):

The second film in the set (actually made as a sequel to the De Palma film before the 2002 remake came into the world), follows Rachel Lang (Emily Bergl), a high school girl who runs with a different crowd. She's not interested in being part of the cool kids clique, instead she hangs out with similar misfits and outsiders. When she's not dealing with high school she's at home with her step parents but it's at school where things really start to go wrong.

See, like most high schools, Rachel's is more or less run by the jocks and they have, between themselves, a competition going where points are awarded for getting the various female students of the school into bed. This goes south when Rachel's friend Lisa (Mina Suvari) commits suicide after essentially being used by a male student named Eric (Zachery Ty Bryan). Rachel is, quite understandably, upset about this and after Lisa's death she notices a change in one of the jocks, Jesse Ryan (Jason London). Soon enough, he and Rachel have got a thing going together. While all of this is going on, Sue Snell (Amy Irving), the school guidance counsellor, is keeping a very suspicious eye on things. Having been the only one to survive the events that ended the original De Palma film, Sue knows more than most of the students realize. She sees in Rachel a lot of the same traits as she saw in Carrie White more than twenty-five years ago and after confirming her suspicious that Rachel has the same abilities that Carrie White had, she starts to put together the pieces of the puzzle that is Rachel's true past. The jocks, however, are out to get Rachel and make her life a living Hell. This won't end well for anybody, no way, no how!

While you could make the argument that this is a sequel to a movie that didn't really ever need a sequel, The Rage: Carrie 2 is an entertaining enough updated take on the original idea. Bringing Sue Snell in as the connecting link and tying Rachel to the sordid history of Carrie White through her character is an interesting idea and not a bad plot device at all, but the execution of this idea is only half-assed. We're not given as much of a backstory here as the movie really needs to feel as fleshed out and character driven as it probably should have been and the end result is that this turns out to be just another outsiders versus jocks type of tale. But again, it's entertaining enough.

The script does a decent enough job by portraying the ‘bad guys' (jocks) in the movie as victims of their own social scene. They're the stars of the school athletic program and because of the popularity of football amongst their peers, they're under their own sort of pressure. Of course this doesn't excuse how they mistreat the girls in the school but it does paint them not as high school bully clichés but as actual people with their own set of problems. Of course, the focus is more often than not on Rachel. As we learn her backstory and how it ties into who her real parents are Emily Bergl winds up giving a performance that is as solid as the material allows for. Yes, at times she is channeling that which came before but she does it well and supporting efforts from Survari, Bryan (of Home Improvement fame!) and Amy Irving are decent enough.

Some decent effects work, a fine score and nice camerawork compliment the acting here. The end result? It's watchable, entertaining even, but as you'd guess for a sequel to a movie that didn't need a sequel in the first place, it can't touch the original in terms of impact, style or intensity.

The Blu-ray:

Video:

Both films are presented in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.78.1 and 1.85.1 widescreen respectively on their own separate 50GB Blu-ray discs. Carrie looks okay, not great but okay. Some compression artifacts pop up and there's a bit more minor print damage than you might expect, but there is an obvious increase in detail and texture here that DVD wouldn't be able to provide and colors look okay if occasionally a bit flat. Some scenes do look softer than others but this looks to have more to do with the way that the movie was shot than the actual transfer, given the limitations of shooting on HD at the time that this movie was made. This transfer won't blow you away but for a TV movie made on what we can rightfully assume was a modest budget, it looks okay. The Rage: Carrie 2, which unlike the feature on the first disc, was shot on film, definitely gets the better video presentation of the two movies, with stronger detail, less compression artifacts and a cleaner picture. Colors are again nicely reproduced here and neither film shows any obvious issues with noise reduction or edge enhancement worth complaining about.

Sound:

English language audio options are provided in DTS-HD 5.1 and 2.0 Master Audio with subtitles provided in English only. In both instances the 5.1 mixes spread things out a little more effectively, primarily when it comes to the use of music in both movies. Levels are nicely balanced throughout each feature and there were no noticeable issues of any hiss or distortion to note. Dialogue stays clean and clear and properly balanced and there's a reasonable amount of depth to each film's mix.

Extras:

The extras for Carrie start off with a commentary track from director David Carson who is joined by cinematographer Victor Goss. This is a decent talk about what went into getting this made for TV picture finished, with a good mix of standard ‘who did what' style trivia and technical information relating to their use of digital cameras in the shoot. They also talk about working with the different cast and crew members and share some stories about working with Angela Bettis on the film in addition to offering up some details as to how this version was meant to be different than the classic De Palma picture made decades prior. Aside from that we get a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection.

The Rage: Carrie 2 gets a bit more love in the supplements department, starting with another audio commentary, this time with director Katt Shea who is joined by director of photography Donald Morgan and moderator David DeCoteau. This is a decent talk even if at times it sounds like parts of it have been edited? Regardless, Shea is an interesting commentator as she talks about what went into creating this sequel, what she likes about the picture and what her experiences working on it were like. Morgan's input is a bit more technical as he shares some thoughts on what went into getting the look of the film right. DeCoteua keeps the two fairly on point and busy enough to make this one worth listening to. Also included here is Katt Shea's solo commentary track from the older DVD release that came out some years back and while it does cover some of the same ground as the new track does, Shea is a bit more detailed in some aspects of how she recalls the shoot as she offers up thoughts on the cast, crew and effects as well as a fair bit more.

Aside from that the disc also includes a quick Alternate Ending (with optional commentary from Shea) that runs just over a minute in length (and which includes some before and after comparisons that show off how the movie looked before and after some of the special effects work was employed in the picture), eight minutes of Additional Scenes, a trailer, menus and chapter selection.

Final Thoughts:

Shout! Factory's Blu-ray double feature release of Carrie/The Rage: Carrie 2 is a pretty good one, offering up both movies in decent shape and with more extras than you'd probably expect to see. The transfer for the earlier film won't floor you but the later picture looks quite good and both movies feature decent audio. As to the movies themselves? They're interesting follows ups to the De Palma picture with the 2002 remake offering a more accurate representation of the book and the 1999 sequel offering an interesting continuation of the story told in the original film. Recommended.

Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.

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