This year, the Soska Sisters returned to Frightfest with their world premiere of Rabid!
I was very excited to see the film and even though I was a bit disappointed that I couldn’t go to any other Frightfest screenings, I was over the moon that I got to see Rabid and to witness a brief Q&A with Jen and Sylvia Soska afterwards.
Rabid is a remake of David Cronenberg’s 1977 film, which is a dangerous area to delve into, but Jen and Sylvia were cautious.
As they told us, they are not fans of remakes, but having been offered the chance to direct Cronenberg’s only remake was an opportunity they couldn’t pass on. Moreover, the film breathes new life into the story shifting the focus to current issues.
This version focuses on the fashion industry and the image-focused society we live in, poking fun at the crazy standards we, especially women, have to follow (paraphrasing “nothing tastes as good as skinny”).
It follows Rose (Laura Vandervoort), a timid and soft-spoken albeit ambitious woman. Rose has trouble asserting herself, but all of that changes when she gets into a car accident that leaves her face completely disfigured.
She undergoes an experimental treatment given to her for free and from that things start to shift. Her demeanour changes – now she is reclaiming her space at work, she is taking what she wants. On one hand she becomes empowered, on the other, she is given too much power that she cannot control it.
Much like Justine (Garance Marillier) in Julia Ducournau’s Raw, Rose starts craving meat, especially blood, and her behaviour gets out of hand and she experiences what she thinks are hallucinations and we as the audience are left wondering if those are really products of her mind or not.
Jen and Sylvia did a great job in building mystery and suspense. We could sense they were holding things back, waiting for the perfect moment to unleash everything. And that time comes.
Rabid, much like anything the Soska Sisters do, is very gory and I could see people next to me averting their eyes from the screen at some moments. The production design worked effectively to deliver a beautiful film and the make-up effects are the highlight.
The narrative focuses on the evolution of Rose’s character. She starts off as this fragile creature and ends with an extreme amount of power – so much so she can barely control it.
Much like the evolution of Mary in American Mary (the Soska’s second feature), Rose is ambitious and work-driven but there’s something lacking in her. By going through this accident she is allowed to evolve into something new and strong. Instead of using her new powers for the bad, she uses it to better herself in her career.
She works hard, nothing is handed to her. Unfortunately, similar to Mary, Rose is not allowed the freedom to explore and understand her powers. She is sent to fail and when she does, she is again restrained.
The similarities between Rabid and American Mary do not end there either. The male characters in both films personify everything that is bad in human nature. They’re ultimately the reason why the heroines fail. Rose is not perfect, she has flaws, a crippling past, and dreams… she is human after all – even though she isn’t.
Rabid is a well-made film that is gory, entertaining and fun!
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