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Simon Read [Film Festival 06.19.11] Israel United Kingdom movie review horror

Year: 2010
Directors: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Writers: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: projectcyclops
Rating: 7.5 out of 10

An extremely fun horror film from Israel of all places sees an incestuous brother and sister fall pray to a psychopathic killer's trap in the forest after they run away from home. Seeking help, the brother enlists the aid of four young tennis playing yuppies, who are on a trip to the beach when they accidentally hit him with their car. Add into this mix a grumpy forest ranger and his sarcastic girlfriend, and a pair of cops who think they're above the law, and you're in for quite a ride.

Rabies is another post-modern horror film which isn't shy of using outrageous black humour in order to break the moments of genuine tension, as well as providing buckets of gore too. The actors all seem to inhabit their roles very naturally which means that a knowing glance or muttered utterance can bring laughter from the audience, while the heavier moments are genuinely affecting as the characters are people we almost care about, or at least can relate to.

The strongest element in Rabies is that we never know what's going to happen next, the story being so random and unexpected - for instance the psychopathic killer mentioned above isn't actually the biggest threat of the film, [minor spoiler] as he's shot by a tranquilizer dart in the first act and only resurfaces towards the end, so most of the madness and violence is generated by the massively flawed 'innocent' characters whose selfishness is revealed when they realise that they're lost in the forest without a map. The cops in particular are vilified for their perverted behaviour, which kicks off the craziness when they try strip search the young yuppies, who manage to wrestle a handgun from them and flee into the woods, where bear-traps and landmines are littered liberally around the forest floor, providing a ton of suspense when they see the warning signs pinned to trees. It's a great 'oh shit' moment.

The characters become separated occasionally and their respective storylines flow nicely once the film finds it's pace, leading up to a third act which provides more bizarre humour and one moment of unexpected pathos, as someone suddenly realises that they need to erase their girlfriend's answering machine messages, I could not have anticipated this twist in a million years, but it works very well in bringing the film to it's hyperactive conclusion.

The direction is strong, with gorgeous cinematography during the forest scenes juxtaposing the gritty horror and proving once again that you don't need a big budget when you've got good material and a director with an eye for shot set-ups and interesting camera work, or in this case two directors who share screenplay credit. The actors, again, carry the film well with their performances which range from the subtle to the insane. All of this makes Rabies very easy to recommend in a season of insulting horror remakes and pointless sequels.

I've no word on distribution yet but if you get the chance to check this out I strongly urge you to do so, it's just so refreshing to see filmmakers with original ideas and the intelligence and skill to put them on-screen with such flair. It's also gratifying to see a film which knows what it is and isn't afraid to let us have some fun with the genre, which we do in here in spades.

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Ben Austwick (10 years ago) Reply

I laud the originality and intelligence used to make Rabies, but it didn't really work for me. It was a bit too directionless. I find this a lot with this kind of thriller, all twists and turns with no substance.

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