Given the popularity of services like Instagram, it makes plenty of sense that a remake of David Cronenberg’s Rabid would pop up in today’s climate. Directors Jen and Sylvia Soska seemed well poised to tackle such a film, with their background in horror that’s often uncomfortable to watch. Unfortunately, the updated Rabid is too much of a mess to pack a punch.
Rabid spends its first few scenes building the audience’s relationship with its protagonist Rose (Laura Vandervoort), a fairly sympathetic lead. Rose is portrayed as a downtrodden girl seemingly unable to find love, which doesn’t exactly translate through Vandervoort’s portrayal of the character. A failed setup attempt by her best friend Chelsea (Hanneke Talbot) leads to unfortunate motor scooter incident that leaves her disfigured. A visit to an experimental surgery clinic sets the horror in motion.
Vandervoort does her best with the character, though it’s hard to care about Rose beyond the first few scenes. Past that, the film seems totally uninterested in investing in her development, at which point she’s mostly used simply as a force driving the plot. There’s a few scenes where she doesn’t appear at all that feel weirdly out of place.
Rabid is way too long for a film that rarely seems like it knows where its plot is headed. As a horror movie, the audience can certainly guess, but there’s the bigger question of whether anyone should care. Rose becomes less and less effective of a protagonist as time moves on. The film slow walks the horror to such a degree that it falls flat by the time the narrative finally starts moving.
The script is a disaster. Some of that could be forgiven, such as listening to the doctors awkwardly talk about the flaws in American healthcare or Rose’s inconsistent relationship with Chelsea, who’s revealed to be her foster sister even though their relationship barely seems familial. The dialogue is just too clunky to get beyond.
The production values are a mixed bag as well. The sets are well-crafted, but too many scenes are poorly lit, often contrasting with the actor’s makeup. Exacerbating this issue is the fact that these characters are supposed to work in fashion, showing up to work with so much foundation that it looks like they let a young child play dress up. The dynamic is distracting, making you wonder how this film got made.
Rabid is a regrettable bore, drawn out to the point that it forces unnecessary attention on the film’s many shortcomings. Somewhere underneath all the mess might have been a passable remake of a great film. This movie was just a disaster.