Rabid Movie Review
Written by Joel Harley
Released by 101 Films
Directed by Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska
Written by Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska and John Serge
2019, 107 minutes, Not Yet Rated
FrightFest world premiere on 26th August 2019
Laura Vandervoort as Rose
Greg Bryk as Director
Stephen Huszar as Dominic
Stephen McHattie as Dr. Keloid
After riffing on the great horror auteur's style in their debut feature, the Sisters Soska return to the Cronenberg well with an official remake of one of his earliest movies. 1977's Rabid is well-remembered but rough around the edges, and ripe for the remake treatment. And, if such a thing must exist, who better to helm such a remake than Jen and Sylvia Soska, who burst onto the scene with such vitality in Dead Hooker in a Trunk and American Mary? It certainly makes more sense than their straight-to-VOD WWE horror sequel (See No Evil 2) or (the surprisingly solid) prison punching movie with, um, Dean Cain.
The basic plot points of their Rabid remain roughly the same: gruesomely disfigured in a traffic accident, Rose (Laura Vandervoort) undergoes experimental plastic surgery to restore her looks. Outwardly, the operation is a success, but Rose is left with an insatiable craving for blood... human blood. She soon becomes the unwitting Patient Zero in a violent epidemic which threatens to consume everyone and everything around her. If she doesn't consume it all first, that is.
This is a cleaner, slicker movie than Cronenberg's grubby original, with improved acting and stunning practical effects. Images of Rose's mangled face were enough to get the Soskas banned from Twitter, and these visuals are just as unsettling within the film itself; so good in fact, that Rose's pre-surgery face threatens to overshadow everything which comes after it.
On the film does press though, and both the Soskas and co-writer John Serge keep the momentum going long after their big crowd-pleasing moment has passed. Watching the infection spread beyond Rose is silly and packed with a lot of zombie movie cliché, but Vandervoort is a likeable (if mildly miscast, as a Plain Jane type) lead, and her story is as engrossing as it is gross. While the film's cinematography is disappointingly workmanlike, there are flourishes of nightmarish invention here and there, and the homages to Cronenberg's other works (hello, Dead Ringers) are amusing. Meanwhile, the fashion studio setting brings a little variety to the template, allowing the filmmakers to bring their own subtext to the story and have some fun sniping at the movie industry.
Rabid is a triumphant return to form for the Twisted Twins, who apply their own talent for grisly body horror to an interesting story with neat visuals. It lacks the originality of David Cronenberg, but Jen and Sylvia Soska still find plenty of room to make their voices heard, and this version of Rabid their own.
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