Rabid is one of those films where you’re either going to be enthralled by the way it talks about the extent people could go to in order to be seen as beautiful, the limitations placed on medical science by Governments and how far should we push genetic research and treatments. All of this is wrapped up in some pretty gore-filled moments that made this reviewer hide behind his popcorn more than once.
Directed by: Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska
Produced by: Michael Walker, Paul LaLonde, & John Vidette
Starring: Laura Vandervoort, Ben Hollingsworth, Phil Brooks, Ted Atherton & Hanneke Talbot
Based on: Rabid by David Cronenberg
Release dates: 11 October 2019 (New Jersey Film Festival) / 12 October 2019 (Monsterfest Melbourne)
Running time: 107 minutes
Rating: R (United States) / MA15+ (Australia)
Rose is a quiet, demure, unassuming woman in her looks and actions. Her dream is to become a famous designer in the fashion world, but a terrible accident leaves Rose scarred beyond recognition. She is tempted by a radical untested stem cell treatment offered by a group of transhumanists. The treatment is nothing short of a miracle and wallflower Rose turns into the belle of the ball. Her new outlook on life brings about more than a physical transformation as Rose begins to get everything she wants out of life with a new attitude, but at night Rose has nightmares… Of eating people for their blood. The nightmares begin to be more than real as a hyper-contagious form of rabies begins to spread out of control in the local area, tracing back to people Rose has seen in her nightmares. It turns out that there is more to Rose’s new face than meets the eye in a conclusion that really makes you wonder about what can happen when the limits imposed by Government are thrown out the window.
- Laura Vandervoort as Rose
Rose is one of those character who while you feel sorry for in the beginning, you wonder how come she is so gullible by the end of the movie. In the beginning Rose is being pushed around by an asshole of a boss, set up with a “cute guy” thanks to a friend who gets her a pity date, and just about everything in her life is shit. So when she gets into the accident you feel very sorry for her and the resulting damage to her face will make you grab a barf bag. You almost cheer when the stem-cell’s work… then everything goes to shit once again. Rose during her attack moments are some of the best points in the film, but the fact that she keeps believing that those kill moments are “nightmares” are just unbelievable once the rabies outbreak get out into the public. Right up to the last minute she believes the lies, it’s weird. But then you have the ending, which really leaves you heart broken. Well done.
- Ben Hollingsworth as Brad
The hot guy mentioned earlier, Brad is the only one who knows the truth about Rose’s condition early on in the film and he doesn’t even attempt to do anything except keep up the lies Rose is told by Dr. Burroughs. Outside of that Brad goes from sleazy guy who might be attracted to Rose to a complete conman who is only talking to Rose because he is paid to. I know there was meant to be some romance involved here but I think it gets lost in the overall narrative of the film.
- Ted Atherton as Dr. William Burroughs
Creepy, this dude is creepy… and I love it. As the Doctor who does the operation on Rose that involves the stem cells, you instantly get the feeling that there is something not right about him nor what he is doing, and given why he is doing what he is doing (Trying not to spoiler the ending here), it’s best that you have that feeling from the get go. Probably performance of the film here and it makes me wonder what else his character could do with a sequel or spin off.
- Phil Brooks as Billy
Billy is nothing more than a sleazy guy who gets kicked out of a club and becomes one of Rose’s early victims. As someone who has met CM Punk (we didn’t get along) it was highly amusing to see him get killed twice in the same movie. Loved it, more please.
- Stephen Huszar as Dominic
Playing a Doctor on a soap opera, Dominic is the first victim of Rose’s condition. Seeing his slower burn transformation while on screen is a highlight of the film.
- Greg Bryk as Director
A “special appearance” if anything, Bryk’s director character is a laugh and a half and really makes the scene where Dominic becomes rabid one of the best things about the movie.
- Stephen McHattie as Dr. Keloid
Rose’s original doctor when she first arrived after being hit on the street, Dr Keloid is only on screen for a few moments but thanks to Stephen having one of those faces that makes you pay attention really gives his brief time on screen something to be noted.
- Hanneke Talbot as Chelsea
Chelsea is one of the models at the Fashion House Rose works at, the two have a pretty close relationship and work together a lot. However Chelsea gets Rose a pity date with Ben early on in the film, leading to the accident that transforms Rose afterwards. The rift between the two is only for a moment as Chelsea’s guilt leads her to take care of Rose after the accident The two get a chance to finishing the main fashion show, leading to Chelsea’s death afterwards. Talbot does a great job at the moments where it’s needed, but takes a step back when Rose needs the moments on screen. Good job
- Mackenzie Gray as Gunter
The head of the House of Gunter fashion company, this guy is fucking funny. I’m not sure what it is about the character that had me in stitches, considering he’s mostly an asshole to Rose throughout most of the film. The arrogance of Gunter is both amusing and annoying. I love characters like this which are two things at once.
- Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska as Ellie & Bev
Ok , have to mention the girls themselves. Not so much for the characters they played as they were exposition givers and background characters for the most part, but for how quickly they appear in the film. Sure, it’s no See No Evil 2 (which holds the record as they appear during the opening credits) but it’s still a quick appearance.
- Tristan Risk as Nurse Dana
Ok, last shout out. Risk is one of those people who appear in many Soska Sisters films. Here she plays a nurse who attends to Rose… And here she said she wasn’t in this one. We knew better.
Rabid from start to finish is one of those films which will make you think, laugh, cry, shit yourself, and reach for the barf-bag; and that’s what I’ve come to expect from the Soska Sisters. Remaking Rabid couldn’t be easy, but they created not only a good remake, but improved upon it using today’s techniques and technology to bring us something more. I’ll be honest and say I spent a lot of time hiding behind my popcorn bucket as some of the scenes made me gag more than once. But that’s not a bad thing. A lot of those moments go to the great acting of those involved, especially Laura Vandervoort as Rose, who really plays the suffering of her condition extremely well and then uses almost a dual-personality like persona when it comes to her post-operation condition.
There are a few logical flaws in Rabid that really pulled me away from the movie overall, one of the biggest being how easy Rose was to manipulate into thinking that her killings were delusions of her healing mind. I’m not sure anyone would be so foolhardy as to not have some sort of something that would be evidence of those killings; hell after-taste is a thing. Plus who doesn’t know the taste of blood? Surely there would be some taste to it that would make Rose aware or at least attempt to question what she is drinking. Then there is the ending reveal. While it is a great twist, it really comes out of left field and the explanation leaves something to be desired.
Rabid is a great remake which also gets the update to the movie that it deserves, plus the way things are left in the end, it’s open to a Rabid 2 or something else. The Soska Sisters have done a great job here and deserve more credit and showings than just film festivals. This film deserves an October/Halloween release alongside bigger names in horror. But alas, this will be another cult classic that should be worth more in name value and also exposure.
Rabid is a remake that both pays proper homage to, and updates the movie in a way that appeals to modern horror audiences. Sure to go down as a cult classic due to a lack in release beyond the film festival route, Rabid is one of those movies that will keep you going to the barf-bag while leaving you something to think about once you leave the cinema. I highly recommend you look out for this at your local horror convention sometime soon… Or keep an eye out for a DVD/Bluray release… Or import it from UK or Canada… Just see this film ok?
- Great Gore
- CM Punk dies twice
- Overall great acting from a great cast
- Not enough releases
- Some logical issues
- Ending comes out of nowhere