Dir: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Starring: Lior Ashkenazi, Danny Geva, Ania Bukstein
Rabies (Kalevet) was a film I had heard about some time ago, it was being billed as the first Israeli slasher film. This certainly got my attention, and I wondered whether I would get to see it and how it would turn out. I am happy to report that yes I have now seen it (thanks to Accent Film for distributing it in Australia), and it turned out pretty well! This film hooked me in from the opening scene and it did not let me go until the very end. It took some interesting twists and turns, and while it was heavy on the cliché, it actually used them to its advantage.
The story will sound familiar, but don’t let that put you off, believe me this is quite different than the usual. Rabies starts out with a brother Ofer (Henry David) and sister Tali (Liat Harley) who have left home and are out on a nature sanctuary sort of place. Only the sister has fallen into a trap and as the brother goes out for help we hear a strange noise and assume something has happened to him. After this opening, we are introduced to a ranger Menashe (Menashe Noy), who is out doing some work. We then cut to our group of attractive young people, Mickey (Ran Danker), Pini (Ofer Shechter), Adi (Ania Bukstein) and Shir (Yael Grobglas) who are off to a tennis tournament but get lost near the same location as the others. Of course they are going to meet in some way, of course there is a psycho on the loose and of course the only ray of light will turn out to be a nightmare. The fun in this is watching it all unfold and to see the clichés get turned on their heads!
As I saw the set up to this film, I just assumed I knew how this was going to turn out. Especially with the younger characters, I knew who each one was going to be with their role. You have the token blonde, the ‘always talks about sex’ guy, the straight edge guy and the girl that may or may not be a lesbian. But they certainly turned out to be more than just stereotypes, and they developed into much more as the film progressed. The ranger Menashe is the one we know is going to get messed up in the wrong thing, and he does. His story isn’t shown as much, and while I knew he wasn’t going to have a good time here, the tension of the situation really worked. The brother and sister characters really carry a lot of this, it is because of their situation that all of this actually happens. They turned out to be the real wild cards, and it was actually very well handled. We also have two cops that turn up, and they stink all over of ‘nightmare’. But again just because they have this stereotype, doesn’t take away at all from their characters who actually get developed and the actions they take.
The film takes the road of dramatic coincidences, and there were times I was shaking my head at how these things worked out. But our writers/directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado know the horror genre, and they laid everything out perfectly. They bring something into the situation and it isn’t forgotten about and it does come back. They play around with that clichéd formula and actually make something exciting out of it. The performances they got out of the cast were great, everyone was perfectly suited to their roles and they didn’t let up. This really is an impressive effort, and I was not let down at all. It is a fun film, a crazy one, and it might just be the straight take on the play of Tucker And Dale Vs. Evil. Rabies is well worth checking out, the title itself is actually quite clever and very fitting.
The Australian DVD:
The DVD I reviewed was a screener, so I am unable to comment on Picture/Audio quality.
DVD details here.
Thanks to Bill care of Accent Film Entertainment for the copy.