The duo of Jen and Sylvia Soska really wows with the audience with this updated reboot of the David Cronenberg classic.
Rose Miller is an aspiring fashion designer who gets a job at the Haus of Gunter. However, Rose seems to be the face of ridicule and outcast despite her friendship with Chelsea, who’s been like a sister to her. When Rose finds herself unexpectedly asked to go to a party by photojournalist Brad Hart, Rose unwittingly accepts. Brad works his charms, but Rose learns that Chelsea had set them up and she is upset. Rose leaves the party in a moment of anger but ends up in a terrible accident.
A week later, Rose awakens from her coma, but is terribly disfigured. As she struggles to adjust, an opportunity arises which takes her to the Burroughs Institute. A new experimental surgery involving stem cell representation would give Rose her face back. The surgery is a success and Rose is returning to her normal self and even gets the attention of Gunter with her recent designs. However, Rose begins to have terrifying nightmares and imagines herself with many suitors and biting them. Little does she know that she has become the contagion for a new virus that causes rage and rabies and that her hallucinations are real. Can Rose find a way to put an end to her living nightmare?
David Cronenberg’s 1977 cult classic Rabid is perhaps not only known for its story of an experiment gone awry but brought the late Marilyn Chambers to the mainstream. Over four decades later, the Soska Sisters, Jen and Sylvia, had updated the film. The film seems to be more than a typical horror film. The film can be said to show the horrors of beauty or even how the world of glamour can have its ugly side as well, even with the story of an experiment gone awry. Together with John Serge, who came up with the updated story, this is a well-made reboot of the cult classic.
Laura Vandervoort is great in the central character of Rose, who’s first seen as a nerdy aspiring fashion designer who is mocked and ridiculed by the likes of her boss and two familiar looking twins who tend to talk trash. And yes, these twins are none other than our film’s directors, who make the most of their screen time as the “final nail in the coffin” before the pivotal scene that starts the film’s horror in the accident that causes her disfigurement. It is easy enough to sympathize with Rose because we see her for a good portion of the film struggling with her disfigurement and you can only feel worrisome for her. And yet, despite the fact that she is the unwilling carrier of this virus after her successful surgery, you still root for Rose in some way because she has overcome all these boundaries and finds herself climbing on the ladder of success.
Benjamin Hollingsworth seems very odd in his role of Brad, the photojournalist who has a liking to Rose. While she rebuffs him as a result of some possible ridicule especially after the accident, his motives may seem a bit creepy at first. However, it seems like Brad does actually like her despite all the futile attempts and only means to support her like Hanneke Talbot’s Chelsea, who is Rose’s best friend and sister who is also one of the models working for Gunter. In an interesting twist, the role of Dr. Keloid, played by Stephen McHattie, is more of just an extended cameo and we see the new doctor in Dr. Burroughs, played by Ted Atherton, who seems to have good intentions although some of his motives seem suspect at first glance.
The special effects are so great and realistic that at one point before the film’s release, the Soska Sisters were temporarily banned from social media, but the output of support from fans and other filmmakers eventually led to a reversal. Rose’s disfigurement is very disturbing at first glance but eventually, it helps the viewer feel that sympathy for her. The effects of the virus are well done as well when we see victims foaming at the mouth, bloodshot eyes, and unleash their rage. The effects are amped up in the third and final act, where everything goes down and just brings the shock value up loads of notches.
The Soska Sisters’ take of Rabid is a great horror film that will make you root and sympathize with the lead character, but also shows how the world of glamour could have its ugly side as well with a third act that amps the level of shocks and terror.
WFG RATING: A
Scream Factory presents a Back 40 Pictures Inc. production. Directors: Jen Soska and Sylvia Soska. Producers: John Vidette, Paul Lalonde, and Michael Walker. Writers: Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska, and John Serge; based on the original film by David Cronenberg. Cinematography: Kim Derko. Editing: Erin Deck.
Cast: Laura Vandervoort, Benjamin Hollingsworth, Ted Atherton, Hanneke Talbot, Mackenzie Gray, Phil “CM Punk” Brooks, April Mendez, Stephen McHattie, Tristan Risk, Jen Soska, Sylvia Soska.