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Rabid (2019)

Directed by: Jen and Sylvia Soska

Starring: Laura Vandervoort

Benjamin Hollingsworth

Hanneke Talbot

Mackenzie Gray

The story follows Rose (Laura Vandervoort), an aspiring fashion designer whose potential is restrained by people who cannot see past her wallflower personality or her normal yet scarred looks. After being humiliated at a company party, she is involved in a traffic accident that leaves her with severe damage to her face and abdomen. Unable to afford reconstructive surgery and the future with such extensive facial disfigurement unbearable, she proceeds with the experimental treatment that not only helps to heal the horrific injuries of the accident, but it also makes her look better than before the accident. With the world now at her feet, she proceeds to head firmly towards her dreams and starts to live life to the fullest, and the world is more than happy to open doors for her now that she has a face that pleases the very people she’s been working all her life to get noticed by. But with her new found confidence also comes new pitfalls, as she now has to deal with vivid dreams and a newly acquired bloodlust.

The Soska sisters have really excelled at creating a fresh new perspective from the original source material. They’ve made a vicious film with a scathing social commentary about the worth we put on looks instead of substance. You can tell that they love and respect the work of Cronenberg, but make no mistake, they have taken the bare bones of the original Rabid and they have created a sleeker, more polished beast of a film.

A key difference is the fleshing out of the characters and the crafting of the bonds and interactions. We spend a great deal of time with Rose in this film and even when we see her struggling to deal with day to day life with her injuries, good writing and a phenomenal performance by Laura Vandervoort help to make this engaging and memorable. The character interaction element of the film is also well crafted, especially with the dualism of people’s attitude towards Rose before and after her accident. Her boss Gunter and her colleagues, who once treated her with such distain, become enthralled with her after the transformation. We know this is wrong and the writers make sure that this is not glorified for their benefit, but they do make it as a stepping stone for Rose to achieve her dream. The sort of love interest Brad (Benjamin Hollingsworth) is there for her despite her protests, which can be trying at times, but it also helps Rose be more confident in saying no. Rose’s sincerest relationship is with her foster sister Chelsea, Rose understands that Chelsea is been a constant source of support, friendship and care.

Given that its over thirty years since the original movie was released, a lot has changed as far as what you can get away with on film and how far you can push boundaries for violence and graphic scenes. It would be fair to say that there is a fair amount of violence and gore in this film, but its never gratuitous and even at the height of the pandemonium, it’s done just enough so it leaves a lasting impact. The Soska’s have shown before in their previous work that they can put together disturbing visuals and weave it into a horrific narrative. With this film they have achieved more than just a visually appeasing horror film, they have crafted a modern must see horror film.

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