Rose (Laura Vandervoort) is having a shitty go at life lately; she’s the odd one out in the fashion biz she toils away in, she’s the pity project of her one friend in the world, Chelsea (Hanneke Talbot), and before too long half of her freakin’ face is scraped off in a moped accident (not really the vehicle that comes to mind when I think of horrible, life-altering, trauma, but here we are… to be fair there were cars involved on the periphery). She also gets fired, you know, just to piss directly on the raw, festering wound that is Rose’s soul.
Not content to live a life destined to haunting Parisian (or Toronto in this case) opera houses, or cosplaying as Darkman, our heroine opts to undergo a radical gene splicing therapy to fix her busted chops. Everything seems to be coming up Rose at first; she’s hot A.F., she gets a new position actually designing fashion for her old outfit; The Haus of Gunter (more on Big G below), and she has no problem getting a man’s attention. So what could possibly fuck all this up? Well, Rose is growing new, alien body parts and begins draining blood from unwitting victims… victims who revive with the same horrible affliction that plagues our heroine!
The first thing you’ll notice about Rabid is how it’s disease based body horror and Canadian setting really bring to mind the work of David Cronenberg; these folks must have been fans of the man’s work!
I’m just fucking with you; Rabid is of course the remake of Cronenberg’s 1977 masterpiece that comes to us courtesy of dynamic directorial duo Jen and Sylvia Soska… who will doubtless come under fire for even attempting to offer their take on this classic (which will be odd seeing as how one of Cronenberg’s greatest masterpieces is itself a re-imagining of Kurt Neumann’s 1958 science gone wrong shocker The Fly).
So, what do ol’ Jen and Syl bring to the table? Well, quite a bit actually.
Rabid is itself a re-imagining more than a remake. While the original recipe is much more a parable about venereal disease set against an ever-more post-apocalyptic environment, this flick is much more concerned with cynicism and the value placed on beauty in our society.
The fashion world setting for this Rabid is absolutely perfect; everyone values appearance more than anything, and when an ugly duckling is thrown into the mix, things go south quick… and that’s even before Rose’s face looks like a turf rash. This is a solid commentary on what a woman faces in today’s society… be pretty or else!
That’s not to say that this fright flick is a preachy parable… the message is there for sure, but the Soska’s realize that horror hounds come for the red sauce, and fortunately they dish it out by the bowl full! We treated to a plethora of grizzly deaths, zombie-like victims of the new plague, and the ever-evolving body of Rose… all realized with glorious practical effects!
Of course all of that wouldn’t amount to a teaspoon of horse shit if he acting involved wasn’t up to snuff, and it certainly is here! Vandervoort is simply amazing as Rose… she expertly handles being sympathetic, sexy, and completely alien… sometimes all at once, and her performance truly gets the audience well invested in her plight. The other performance I have to mention is Mackenzie Gray as the aforementioned Gunter… this dude is like a combination of Andy Warhol and Kim Fowley by way of Otto Preminger; a completely gonzo performance that absolutely steals every scene it is featured in. Additionally, one of my fav genre performers Tristan Risk (American Mary, Aliens Ate My Homework, Innsmouth) turns up in two roles, one in full make-up, and one just good ol’ normal T.R., so bonus points there!
On the downside, this flick is slick as shit through a goose’s ass. Everything is stylized, color corrected, and gorgeously shot… but I have o admit I miss the grit of the original film which seemed much more outlaw than this affair… though this frightful feature isn’t afraid to go dark in it’s own right.
Bottom line, even if you are sick to your shit of remakes, I’d say give Rabid a go… the Soskas are obviously fans of the original and it’s director, and are not afraid to do their own thing, plus those damn effects are so gosh darn fuckin’ nifty!