February 26, 2012

Filthy Review - Rabies

Rabies (2010)

Review by Jude Felton

To say that I never thought I would be reviewing a horror flick that was made in Israel would be a mild understatement. Saying that though, the world of horror is ever expanding and reaches all corners of the globe now and there is quality coming at us from every direction. So when I hear people complain about the state of modern horror I simply say to look a little farther afield for your fix, as some of the best recent horror has come from the most unlikely places. Either that or wait for the inevitable remake and then complain about it. I digress though, yes Rabies was made in Israel and no, there isn’t a crazy Hebrew Cujo to be seen. 

On the surface Rabies, which got its native release in 2010, comes across as the sort of horror flick we have seen time and time again, but don’t be fooled as it is a much smarter affair than you first might think. The plot, which has many strands, basically concerns a psychopath who has imprisoned a young lady, a couple of Forestry Ranger types, a couple of cops and a group of four tennis players, all of whom either start off in the woods or end up in the woods, and what transpires when they get there.

Now, that is all very vague of me, but it is all very intentional as well, as this film really works best with you not knowing an awful lot of what it is about before you watch it. What I will say is that the psychopath is not central to the plot, so you aren’t getting traditional kids in peril and watch out here comes the killer type of movie. If anything the psychopath is just a minor distraction.

Where Rabies works best, and creates the most tension and horror, is with the interaction between the various characters within the different groups. The writers have given us a great script full of realistic, not to mention at times funny, script that truly draws us into this twisted world. The horrors come from the most unexpected places and you never really know what to expect. Scratch that, you have no idea what to expect next whatsoever.

There is a jarring rhythm to the events as they keep you guessing, and more than that firmly hold your attention. Whether you care about the characters on a personal level is another matter, as there are some vile individuals on display, you will however care about what happens to them.

As I was watching the movie I came to thinking that it came across in the style of a micro-condensed Robert Altman ala Short Cuts type of film, with the many strands interwoven. Don’t get me wrong though, it is a million miles away from that movie or any Altman flick, but the structure itself seemed to be similar in a crude manner.

The film itself looked great and technically it was spot on. The filmmakers obviously had a limited budget but haven’t let this hold them back with the direction and editing being skillfully utilized. Of course all this helps with having an excellent cast. Now I am no expert on Israeli acting but I did read that a lot of the actors here are very big and very popular in their native Israel, and this shows in their performances.

What you end up with is a very familiar initial premise that goes off in directions that continue to surprise and shock. Rabies really is a quite excellent movie that just goes to show that good horror, or film in general, can come from anywhere if the talent is there.

Please do not be put off by the fact that the movie has subtitles, just watch and enjoy. I didn’t even realize it was in a foreign language after about ten minutes of watching it, I was that engrossed.

Whether or not Rabies opens the flood gates for more Israeli horror flicks I could not say, but if this film is anything to go by we could be in for some real treats. I certainly recommend keeping an eye out for what the Writer/Director team of Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado come up with next.

Rabies is released on DVD by Image Entertainment on February 28th

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