Movie Review: Rabies

Just when I was in the mood for the usual backwoods gorefest and excited to meet a new psychotic family of killers, the Israeli horror movie “Rabies” (Blood Clan/Kalevet) threw me for a loop and gave me something I wasn’t expecting. What trailers implied to be a typical slasher turned out to be far from it, and the film’s characters found that their worst enemy was each other.

The 2010 horror, which had its world broadcast television premiere on FEARnet last month, opens with a young woman stuck in an underground trap in the woods with her brother struggling to find a way to get her out. The film sets the audience up to believe that our characters will be fighting for their lives against a madman; however, as time progresses, it becomes clear that there is no crazy killer or backwoods family stalking them.

After we meet the couple–who happen to be siblings (ICK)–we are then introduced to a car full of young adults on their way to a tennis match. Their trip is cut short when their world–and their car–collides with the brother from the film’s opening. Desperate to rescue his sister, the hurt man recruits the two men from the car to help him in the woods while the two women stay by the car and wait for police. Because leaving the vulnerable women alone in the middle of nowhere is totally the smartest decision.  

Once the group breaks up, all hell breaks loose. Characters make poor decisions out of anger and stupidity, and love causes most of them to do things that they normally wouldn’t do. In fact, love seemed to be an underlying theme throughout the film as many of the characters struggled with their forbidden love or unreciprocated love, while an innocent couple have their love broken after simply trying to do the right thing.

The film was a nice surprise and it had strong performances, particularly from Adi’s Ania Bukstein who had the onscreen presence of a Final Girl. Although the film’s plot was initially unexpected, it wasn’t something that hasn’t been done before. Rabies is comparable to films like Tucker and Dale Vs Evil, and the indie horror I Didn’t Come Here to Die. Each film used the same ideas, but executed them differently.  I personally enjoyed Tucker and Dale more for its in-your-face humor and ridiculousness, while Rabies presented itself too seriously for my taste.

Rabies is a fun watch and the characters are engaging throughout. But if you’re like me and were hoping to see an Israeli Texas Chainsaw Massacre, you’ll be disappointed. If you’re interested to see how the characters die you can watch Rabies on FEARnet onDemand now.