Rabid Movie Review
Written by Robert Gold
Released by Scream Factory
Directed by The Soska Sisters
Written by Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska and John Serge
2019, 108 minutes, Not Rated
Released on December 13th, 2019
Laura Vandervoort as Rose
Benjamin Hollingsworth as Brad
Ted Atherton as Dr. Burroughs
Hanneke Talbot as Chelsea
Mackenzie Gray as Dominic
Stephen Huszar as Gunter
Mild-mannered fashion designer Rose Miller works with gorgeous models, including her best friend and roommate, Chelsea. Their boss is applying pressure for his upcoming show, but Rose is having trouble getting her work noticed. Following a humiliating evening at a party, Rose is the victim of a horrible traffic accident that leaves her disfigured facially. She participates in an experimental plastic surgery involving stem cells and within a very short time makes a full recovery, looking more beautiful than ever. Her new appearance captures her boss’ attention and he is suddenly interested in giving her designs a prominent place in his show
Rose displays new confidence and a sexual awakening, but there are some unfortunate side effects to the procedure. She unwittingly is the carrier of a new string of rabies that spreads rapidly and violently. Rose craves blood and is suffering hallucinations – so she returns to the doctor who performed her surgery for answers. The outbreak is rapidly spreading throughout the city, resulting in chaos and death. Rose is the source of this disease, but what she learns at the clinic is far more damning.
In 2012, twin sibling directors Jen and Sylvia Soska made big waves with their sophomore effort American Mary, a horror film with an interesting premise, solid performances and a decent number of thrills. They have continued to work steadily on a variety of projects, none more exciting than their latest effort – a remake of David Cronenberg’s classic Rabid (1977). Using the original film as a springboard, the Soskas update the material for the modern era with a stronger female lead who is less the victim and more responsible for her choices than Cronenberg’s passive protagonist.
Laura Vandervoot (Jigsaw) stars as Rose, and does all of the heavy lifting, as the film hinges on her performance. She is sympathetic as the mousy wallflower and remains likeable following her transformation into beautiful swan. Her best scenes are opposite Hanneke Talbot (Ready or Not) as the emotionally supportive Chelsea. The two convincingly share a bond of deep friendship that greatly helps audiences gravitate to their side in the coming crisis. Ted Atherton (Max Payne) plays the calculating Dr. Burroughs as a standoffish authority figure with a secret. He gradually slips into the role of antagonist and has some great moments in the final act. Filling the role of potential love interest is Benjamin Hollingsworth (Joyride 3) as Brad, who does a fine job even if the part is underdeveloped.
The Soskas drop little references and homages to the work of David Cronenberg, including a nice nod to Dead Ringers during a surgery scene. There are echoes of familiarity in certain shots and bits of dialogue and the tribute is a welcome touch. Cinematographer Kim Derko (Kissed by Lightning) and production designer Peter Mihaichuk (Lost After Dark) give the picture a distinctive look that demands your attention. Make-up effects come courtesy of Emily Quinn (It, 2017) and Graham Chivers (100 Feet) and are wonderfully disgusting while Claude Foisy (Pontypool) contributes a winning score.
Rabid is not a perfect movie, but it is much better than I expected going in. The third act is a bit muddled, but the ending is strong enough to keep viewers entertained. Jen and Sylvia Soska seem right at home in the horror genre and continue to grow as filmmakers with a talent for drawing strong performances from their cast. I look forward to their next project.
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