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Film Review: Rabid by the Soska Sisters

A remake of the 1977 David Cronenberg film; Rabid offers the same premise with a little bit more purpose.

In the original; Rose has almost no background story. She gets into a motorcycle accident and is saved from life or death by getting an experimental skin graft while she’s in coma. The result being that Rose now craves blood and has a needle-like appendage in her armpit that stabs people. She is not fully aware of the violent acts she commits, but the line is a bit blurry there. The people she bites turn sick and doctors blame a rabid epidemic. It pretty becomes much a zombie movie from there.

In the Soska Sisters’ remake; Rose is a vegetarian, an aspiring fashion designer, mocked by her colleague, lacks self-confidence and again gets in an accident. Disfigured; she is approached by an experimental clinic to get a graft from stem cells. She accepts with a bit of hesitation. The operation seems to be a success and Rose is even more beautiful than before. Her self-esteem is heightened, her fashion work gets better... but a blood craving grows wider and wider. She goes on a killing spree, but her line of reality is blurred by the pills she takes to get better from the surgery. Even her surgeon (who could have been played by Cronenberg) says it must just be vivid hallucinations or nightmares. Again, the people bitten turn into violent lunatics and it is blamed on a rabid epidemic. There is more of a reason for why all is happening, but it is all stuffed in the last 10 minutes of the movie in a long and kind of embarrassing exposition scene.

This movie is far from perfect, but I still prefer it to the original. The aesthetic is very interesting with the clinic set especially with paintings of disfigured abstract faces on the walls. There is also some references from other Cronenberg’s work; the surgeon’s red medical gown that looks almost like a religious attire is straight from Dead Ringers and fits well here to represent the danger of men playing God.

The gore and sfx makeup are the elements that give the budget away. They feel a bit cheap; in the “John Dies at the End” level. It’s not atrocious, but the movie would have gain a lot from more convincing effects.

The symbolisms of how we perceive ourselves and the steps it takes to learn who we are is well put together and is one of the element that elevates the movie above the original in my opinion.

Even with its flaws, I would recommend the watching experience; especially if you enjoyed other work from the Soska twins.

Review by: Julien Desrosiers

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