FrightFest 20: Rabid (2019)

Today we go from rabbits to Rabid with the Soska Sisters’ remake of David Cronenberg’s classic armpit horror.

“Why do we keep remaking old trends?” asks the self-referential opening line, a challenge the Soskas set themselves and answer in style. These Canadian Cronenberg disciples are the perfect filmmakers to remake Rabid, staying true to the auteur’s vision while bringing their scalpel-sharp feminist perspective to the surgical table.

The story’s bare bones are the same (girl meets boy, has experimental reconstructive surgery, develops thirst for human blood) but the Twisted Twins graft the action onto the fashion industry, giving Cronenberg’s ’70s body horror a camp, couture makeover without sanitising his venereal weirdness. The injury detail is so strong in fact that the Soskas were suspended from twitter after posting images from the film, which seems unfair considering most of the content on there.

Laura Vandervoort (Jigsaw) is our Anne Hathaway in this Devil Wears Dada scenario, opposite Kevin Baconalike Mackenzie Gray as a Karl Lagerfeld-esque designer whose Bruno-style hyperbole about fashion provides enough humour to offset the gore.

Shot in just 19 days after years of troubled development, Rabid continues the Soskas’ obsession with surgery so brilliantly dissected in American Mary and explores vegetarianism through cannibalism in a similar vein to Julia Ducournau’s RawThen there’s the Cronenbergian references, ranging from the William Burroughs Clinic to The Brood-inspired ending that further showcases MastersFX’s monstrous special effects.

Rabid is a reverential yet resourceful remake by true students of Cronenberg who understand his work inside and out. Which for him are often the same.

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