Directed by: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska
Written by: Jen Soska, John Serge, Sylvia Soska
Starring: Benjamin Hollingsworth, C.M. Punk, Hanneke Talbot, Jen Soska, Laura Vandervoort, Stephen Huszar, Stephen McHattie, Sylvia Soska
Directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska
Available on Blu-Ray in the UK
A young fashion designer named Rose finds herself horribly disfigured after being directly involved in a road traffic accident. Unable to talk nor look at herself in the mirror properly, she signs up for an experimental stem cell treatment that has miraculous results.
After recovering from her treatment, Rose is looking better than ever and finally feels on top of the world. Her new visage starts to get her positive attention with people noticing her work and respecting her efforts compared to how they did before. However, what the doctor didn’t mention about the treatment was the side-effects: an uncontrollable thirst for blood. Her insatiable appetite has her acting in ways she’s unable to recognise. Unable to define reality from nightmare, Rose starts to lose control of her life as she begins to realise the full extent of her medical procedure.
A remake of horror maestro David Cronenberg’s film of the same name, RABID is the latest flick from fellow filmmaking Canadians, the Twisted Twins, Jen and Sylvia Soska.
After the success of American Mary, it’s no surprise that the Soska sisters have decided to develop their own spin on the body horror classic, this time taking it away from STD predictions of the 1977 film and this time focusing on the idea of transhumanism – of developing and evolving the human body beyond its physical and mental limitations.
Smallville and V star, Laura Vandervoort, mesmerises in the role of Rose, who at first starts off as a shy fashion designer who’s treated horribly by those in the fashion industry except by her well-intentioned best friend and model, Chelsea. Rose’s nerdy and less than “perfect” appearance, with her acne and glasses, appears to make her a black sheep of the fashion house with even label owner Gunter taking potshots at her at times. It’s only after her accident and treatment do we start to see Rose emerge from her shell as suddenly she’s being treated as an equal, especially by her boss, which brings out the confidence in the young woman. The film says a lot about how life, not just the fashion industry, works and how superficial and nasty humans can be to each other especially towards someone they may not deem to fit in or meet their ideas of ‘beautiful’ or ‘normality’. This particular note is of interest because just as her peers finally accept Rose as one of their own following the accident, Rose is actually far from normal and not even the clear complexion, perfect eyesight or looking the belle of the ball in a designer fur coat can change that. I suppose you can liken this to Instagram models, fashion magazines and the celebrity industry in general – they may strive for and promote an image of perfection but the reality can often be far from that truth.
Whilst remakes aren’t often celebrated, for a variety of reasons, I can safely say that the Soska sisters have killed it with this effort. It’s fresh, exciting and seems to capture a narrative that others often shy away from. It’s chock full of horror, not just in the bloody, gruesome sense, though there are certainly helpings of that. One of the most memorable scenes of Rose looking at herself in the mirror for the first time, post-accident, to see her exposed, degloved jaw is particularly impressive with Twitter so grossed out by it that the Soskas actually got their Twitter account banned for a period of time when promoting their film because they shared an image of that makeup effect on their timeline. Thankfully, they finally got it reinstated.
As stylish and slick as the fashion world, RABID is a tantalising tease with surprises and thrills along the way. The excellent cast, which also features Phil ‘CM Punk’ Brooks in a brief but impressive role in addition to the scene-stealing Mackenzie Gray as fashion king Gunter, embrace their characters to produce, what feels like, a very intimate experience, even when viewed on the big screen. As a viewer, we feel like we’re the insiders on Rose’s life and see the true struggle she’s experiencing as the life of perfection on the outside begins to crumble from within with some very creepy results!
Forget about what you think you know about remakes and give Jen and Sylvia Soska’s riveting, chilling interpretation a watch.