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Fantastic Fest 2011 Review: Rabies

September 29, 2011
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Rabies (Kalavet) Israel 2010
Written and directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
Starring Lior Ashkenazi, Danny Geva, Ania Bukstein, Menashe Noy, Ran Danker, Henry David, Ofer Shechter, and Liat Harlev

Take a dash of Very Bad Things and cross it with Tucker and
Dale vs. Evil, and you might get something like Rabies. Ironically, the story
has nothing to do with Rabies, and I have no idea why that is the English title.
The film has the distinction of being the first horror export out of Israel,
and it is a nice surprise.

The story begins with a brother and sister seeking refuge in
the woods because their, um relationship is frowned upon.  Unfortunately for the sister, a lunatic has
dotted the woods with archaic (yet effective) booby traps, and she finds
herself at the bottom of one of the traps. Simultaneously, a foursome of coeds
takes a wrong turn on their way to a tennis match, and naturally their car
breaks down at the most inopportune time imaginable. There’s also a park ranger
and a couple of bumbling cops added to the fray.

The resulting movie is a deliciously dark horror-comedy
where no one is exactly who or what they seem.
Miscommunications and mistrust quickly lead to death and mayhem; the
characters pose much more danger to one another than the serial killer possibly
could.

The characters are fleshed out a bit more than we typically
see in this type of story, and half of the fun are seeing their true
personalities emerge when the shit starts to hit the fan.  There is precious little time spent on the
killer, he serves more as an impetus to get the story going.

Another great twist is that the majority of the film takes
place in broad daylight-no need to squint your eyes to see what is happening. Aharon
Keshales and Navot Papushado have produced a gritty look heavily influenced by
70s slasher films, featuring an attractive and capable cast. The film zips
along with a series of twists and turns that are better left unsaid. It’s a
unique take on a genre film, and it’s a lot of fun.

 

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