Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rabies (2010)

I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to "Cabin in the Woods" (and I'm not what you'd call a Whedon fan boy.) I just find the idea of a movie that takes a long used formula (kids go to a cabin in the woods and get more than what they bargained for) and does something new with it exciting. That out of the way, there's another movie that takes an old formula and does something new with it that's out on DVD right now on DVD and Amazon Instant called "Rabies", which apparently is the first horror movie from Israel.

The premise goes like this: A brother and sister who share a dark secret (it's hinted that it might be incest) are on the run and find refuge at an abandoned nature reserve. However, the sister is trapped by a killer, leading the brother to try and save her. Meanwhile, a group of friends, a ranger and his dog, and two policemen end up becoming intertwined in the whole case-and, without giving two much away, the killer end's up becoming...any one of them.

If "Rabies" does run into any problems, it's that the characters are largely an unsympathetic and at times uninteresting bunch. Granted, the actors involved do a good enough job, but they feel underwritten at times. Thankfully, the unsympathetic part of that equation turns out to work, as it allows the movie to play with who the killer is, and in the end, makes him more of a catalyst towards the oncoming events instead of the usual "there's a guy killing kids in the woods" trope. That out of the way, I was a little put off by the intentionally disjointed nature of the narrative, which made it a little hard to watch on a few occasions.

As far as gore is concerned-well, it's not a splatter flick, but you do get a few choice moments, the best involving a wounded teen wielding an ax. To be fair though, gore isn't the big focus of the movie. Instead, directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado opt more for suspense and a nasty streak of black humor, and for the large part, that works because they manage to keep you guessing whose going to die next-and how-without relying on excessive bloodshed. Meanwhile, a few of the scenes (such as one revolving around a landmine) are, as I mentioned, laced with a sense of dark irony that managed to keep me amused. I even liked the rather open ended conclusion, as it actually felt like the most natural conclusion to the prior events. It's refreshing to see someone who knows how to use such an ending.

Will "Rabies" change the slasher genre as we know it? I doubt it, as it's flaws are pretty glaring. However, I did find it to be a refreshing change of pace in the overcrowded slasher genre, and is worth a look for horror fans looking for something different.

Rating: 7/10

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