Rabies Movie Review
Written and directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
2010, 90 minutes, Rated 15 (UK)
DVD released on 22nd April 2013
Ania Buckstein as Adi
Yael Grobglas as Shir
Ran Danker as Mikey
Ofer Shechter as Pini
Liat Harlev as Tali
Danny Geva as Yuval
Most horror movies do exactly what they say on the tin. Some are a little more existential and require you to bend to their will. Israeli slasher Rabies exists somewhere in between these two descriptions, working as something both easily digestible and ponder-worthy at the same time. In this sense, the title sums it up pretty well. Pick up a film called Rabies and you’d be pretty pissed if you didn’t see at least one bleary-eyed maniac, foaming at the mouth and trying to throttle everyone they came into contact with. You don’t see that here exactly, yet there’s no need for disappointment. The unfortunate characters we meet in this foreign thriller are all (metaphorically) infected with something terrible, however just what that bad stuff is is left for us to decipher.
Writer-director team Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado get things off to a pretty intriguing start. We’re in a forest. It’s nighttime. A pair of seemingly-on-the-run-siblings have found their escape plan thwarted by a wrong step in the foliage. Tali (Liat Harlev) has fallen down a camouflaged hole in the ground and needs her brother Ofer (Henry David) to help her out. The pair look worse for wear, leading us to believe that they may not be alone in the woods. When Ofer mysteriously disappears soon afterwards, our suspicions are confirmed.
The next day we’re introduced to a quartet of twentysomething’s on their way to a tennis tournament. While the horny Pini (Ofer Shechter) is recalling his top five sexiest traits in women to shy blonde Shir (Yael Grobglas) and the possibly-gay Adi (Ania Buckstein), their straight-laced driver buddy Mikey (Ran Danker) accidentally hits a stranger with his car. It’s Ofer, he’s in a tizzy and desperate to return to the woods and rescue his still trapped sister who, unbeknown to him, has been both snatched from her pit by their murderous assailant and rescued by Menashe (Menashe Roy), a good natured hunter who spied something strange. While Mikey and Pini accompany Ofer into the woods, the girls call the police only to be met with good cop Danny (Lior Ashkenazi) and very touchy-feely cop Yuval (Danny Geva). Suddenly their tennis plans go out the window.
Now we know the players, Keshales and Papushado set about pitting them against each other. Are they on cursed ground? Temporarily insane? We never really find out but whatever it is unleashes the inherently evil nature of everyone who steps foot in this neck of the woods. Complex relationships are crafted between characters only to have landmines hastily thrown (metaphorically and literally) into the mix, playing with your emotions. You’ll find yourself sympathising with unexpected characters one minute and questioning ones you thought you had pegged the next. The script shows Tarantino-esque influences at times and the duo’s directing keeps you on your toes. While often cutting away at crucial points, their stylised vision gives audiences the sly wink necessary to let you know they're in on the act. It’s a smart way to handle the slasher genre and an impressive debut that’ll leave both gorehounds and highbrow horror buffs happy.
Video and Audio:
Both sharp and clear. Unfortunately the sub-title track started playing up towards the end however that could be down to my DVD player being a bit worse for wear.
There's not loads of features on offer here but the ones that make the cut, count. Directing duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado serve up an insightful commentary shedding some light on their creative process. There's a fifteen minute Frightfest interview, a fifteen minute behind the scenes featurette and the usual trailer fanfare that accompanies most DVD releases (International, UK, Trailer gallery).