Director and writer Luke Shanahan’s first feature film Rabbit is an ambitious blend of genres exploring the mysterious connection twins have that will leave audiences chilled, uneasy and slightly confused.
Maude (Adelaide Clemens) is a med student in Germany, many miles from her native Australia. She has escaped family drama that ignited after her sister Cleo went missing and was assumed dead, but disturbing dreams plague her, leading her to believe that Cleo is very much alive. When Maude has a mysterious fainting spell, she is sent back to Australia to recuperate, and her time back home fuels her determination to investigate Cleo’s disappearance. This takes her on a very dangerous journey with Clare’s fiancé Ralph (Alex Russell) and troubled cop Henry (Jonny Pasvolsky).
Rabbit is a gorgeous film. Cinematographer Ann Howard gives us beautiful scenery and clean framing, while effective editing instills a sense of a living nightmare with jarring cuts from scene to scene. In terms of style and story, I could rhyme off several French Extremity films that would be good comparisons, but I don’t want to skew anyone’s experience. You can certainly make your own judgements, but that was where I had an issue.
It’s admirable that Shanahan wanted to step outside of the typical Australian horror, but it was precariously close to the type of horror the French have perfected, and some of the choices characters made were frustrating. The same can be said for the overdone and incongruous behaviour to represent evil genius. What I did enjoy was the genre-bending plot, melding the supernatural and science to create an interesting story, and the jarring score by composer Michael Darren which to me, is exactly what panic sounds like.
Adelaide Clemens who plays both Cleo and Maude is fantastic and I enjoyed seeing Veerle Baetens, who was in the Shudder series Beyond the Walls, as the mysterious Nerida. Both actors walked a tightrope of tension in almost every scene, keeping you on edge for most of the film.
This film, despite its issues, is not to be missed especially for its atmosphere and performances.
Sunday, October 14, 4 PM, Scotiabank Theatre
Ticket information can be found at the Toronto After Dark website.