It’s not every day that someone promises to ‘bring a mutated rabies virus’ to the #FilmFestival you were attending, only for you to think “Yeah, cool. Can’t wait.” That’s a testament to both the weird charm of #Grimmfest and the wonderfully twisted humour of the #Soska sisters. But it’s even rarer I come out of a screening of a “remake” – of a #Cronenberg film no less – having enjoyed it more than I did the original. That’s a testament to the #Soska’s film-making prowess.
Jen and Sylvia #Soska’s reimagining – an important distinction – of #Cronenberg’s #Rabid takes the best bits of his film (namely, the practical effects-driven #bodyhorror), mutating into something thoroughly contemporary and relevant. Gone are the underlying themes of female sexual empowerment and sexual violence—which was so brilliantly turned on its head by #Cronenberg. Despite equality still being hotly debated and sexual violence against women still being far too prevalent, these subjects – which were so relevant in their day – simply wouldn’t be as powerful now. Instead, the #Soskas take aim at our obsession for perfection and the fashion industry’s influence in that very human foible.
It’s here we meet (Laura Vandervoort’s) Rose. A car crash survivor with facial scarring, Rose is working towards being a fashion designer and receives tutelage from world-famous fashion designer, Gunter (#MackenzieGray). But Rose’s designs lack passion and her peers clearly don’t think she belongs on the programme; she’s regularly the butt-end of everyone’s jokes. But Chelsea (Hanneke Talbot) – Rose’s only friend and colleague – arranges a surprise date for her friend with wannabe photo-journalist Brad (Benjamin Hollingsworth). This goes wrong, however, as Rose doesn’t approve of the gesture, and, storming out, bikes right into oncoming traffic. Brutally disfigured and in constant pain, Rose opts for an experimental stem cell procedure from the world’s creepiest “Doctor” – “I am very pleased to meet you.” – Dr Burroughs. Surprisingly, this turns out to be a pretty crap idea.
An idea which causes a considerable amount of killings and maimings, all more gruesome than the last. On this point, it’s great to see the #Soskas have carried on the tradition of grotesque #practicaleffects that #Cronenberg is so famous for. In fact, I think there may be considerably more here than in the original. It’s undoubtedly used with more panache. Indeed, confidence permeates through the entire movie; the ##Soskas are incredibly talented film-makers who know what they want and how to get it. This shows primarily in writing—adapting a Cronenberg film is no small feat after all. But also in #KimDerko’s sublime cinematography, #ErinDeck’s superbly well-judged editing, and a brilliant original score from #ClaudeFoisy. #Rabid is undeniably resplendent in technical proficiency, and it’s great to see so many female names appearing in the credits.
Now admittedly, I wasn’t a huge fan of #Cronenberg’s #Rabid. But Jen and Sylvia #Soska’s profoundly modern retelling, splendid in its #Cronenbergian #horror, was a blast. It has been a good couple of years for Canadian #horror films, and there were a fair few at #Grimmfest this year. It’s an attestation to the proficiency of its crew and talent of its cast that it stands out amongst them as one of the best. #Rabid has now been released on Blu-ray here in the UK, and it’s well worth your time and money.