Rabid (2019) Review

**Warning: Contains Some Spoilers**

Laura Vandervoort (Smallville) stars as Rose, an underappreciated fashion designer who becomes the victim of a dreadful accident in the Soska Sisters (American Mary-2012) inventive reimagining of David Cronenberg’s cult classic, Rabid (1977). After becoming horrifically scarred and finding her career hanging from a thread, Rose decides to seek the assistance of a private surgeon, Dr. William Burroughs (Ted Atherton) and undergoes radical stem cell surgery. Despite him restoring her outer image back to normal with Rose gaining new-found confidence, this is where her nightmare truly begins…

rabid

While unfamiliar with Cronenberg’s original, Rabid (2019) feels unique to the Soska’s flair for stylish visuals, sharp dialogue, their ability to write strong female characters and their love for the horror genre. Nothing is held back as the film presents outstanding grizzly FX, not for the faint of heart. When Rose’s facial trauma is initially revealed it’s gasp-worthily gruesome anchored by Vandervoort’s tremendous performance as the poor, unassuming woman who has experienced an unjustified misfortune. Vandervoort effortlessly allows us to connect and empathize with Rose, showcasing her vulnerability even prior to her life-altering accident as she encounters peer pressure from those around her from her ruthless boss, Gunter (Mackenzie Gray) to her well-meaning but flawed best friend, Chelsea (Hanneke Talbot).

rabid 4

The gore is ramped up as the film unfolds offering up imaginatively grotesque set-pieces which will instantaneously satisfy horror lovers with a penchant for all things blood and guts. Along with this the film features mezmerizing and surreal imagery and a versatile soundtrack that adds to the overall edgy tone that the film projects. At its core, there is strong and layered storytelling developing throughout as Rose navigates the changes she has undergone while re-adapting to her environment and the toxic people around her.

The Soska Sisters boldly confront damaging attitudes towards women and body image head-on. With themes of body horror, this is the ideal platform to explore issues that plague women within the entertainment industry through a genre lens. By setting Rabid with the fashion world as a backdrop, it allows an opportunity to highlight harmful viewpoints on weight and food which effectively transcends into a horror context. For example, in the beginning, Rose is seen tucking into a bland salad but as the film progresses she finds herself with a lust for blood, depicting the notion of food discipline resulting in her gauging and metaphorically relapsing.

Rabid 3

Rabid incorporates several layers to it, its body horror fused with tropes from the zombie sub-genre, with an ever-advancing virus outbreak, a snowball effect resulting from Rose’s surgery. Rabid plays on the classic trope where one incident can spark off a deadly chain of events concluding in sheer mayhem and bloodshed. At the same time, it is an engaging character-driven story allowing the audience to truly care about what’s happening to the protagonist, as the plot is carefully built-up in stages, taking its time to develop rather than going straight for the jugular. The ending is absolutely startling and will remain with the audience long after the credits roll.

 

Rabid is another genre cinematic accomplishment for the Soska’s. They have incorporated a few subtle nods to American Mary which simply callsback to their most iconic film without coming across as overblown or shoehorned in.  There are some brilliant cameos which will delight fans, including Tristan Risk, Lynn Lowry, Stephen McHattie and the Twisted Twins themselves. All thats left now is to eagerly anticipate the next project from these two, innovative directors who know how to deliver dynamic and captivating horror.

The film premiered at Frightfest back in August 2019 but you can now take a bite out of Rabid as its available on  Blu-Ray courtesy of 101 Films.

Hayley Alice Roberts

Hayley’s Horror Reviews

Twitter: WelshDemoness 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: