Film Review: Rabbit

Writer/director Luke Shanahan’s feature début is an ambitious if messy mish-mash of genres and styles with a strong performance by star Adelaide Clemens and some unnerving South Australian scenery.

Locally produced, this is derivative and uneven and yet, somehow, that oddly works in its favour, as we veer from psychological family/character drama to backwoods eeriness to sinisterly unethical medical shenanigans to some intense horror.

Maude (Clemens) is an Australian medical student in Germany who’s haunted by a recurring nightmare in which she runs through a forest and is eventually caught by some scary figures. Maude has a twin sister named Cleo (also Clemens) who’s been missing for a year, and after experiencing a major realisation to do with the psychic link that always (according to the movies) exists between twins, she faints and then returns home. And cue a glimpse of her looking uncomfortable at Adelaide Airport.

Teaming up with Cleo’s fiancée Ralph (Alex Russell) and Henry (Jonny Pasvolsky), a troubled detective, Maude eventually winds up in the countryside (seemingly somewhere around Murray Bridge) and in a caravan park where a veritable army of weirdos gather (creepy lady with dog, slow-witted girl who knows secrets, and so on), several of whom Maude remembers from her dream/vision/warning. And suddenly we cut to a red screen that mightn’t have been out of place in one of horror maestro Dario Argento’s ‘70s pics or even Gaspar Noé’s I Stand Alone or Irreversible, Michael Darren’s musical score swells, and the film, shall we say, goes off on a tangent.

With a plot guaranteed to divide audiences and more than a little improbability later into the action, this is certainly a hard movie to get a handle on at times. Yet Clemens is fine in two roles, Belgian player Veerle Baetens is memorable as Nerida and there are plenty of ominous moments greatly helped by ever-spooky old Adelaide.

Rated MA. Rabbit screens at the Mercury Cinema on Tuesday September 11 at 10.45am and Sunday September 16 at 4.00pm.

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