The term “elevated horror” has garnered very mixed reactions. On the one hand, there is something inherently unique about a slowly-burning, quiet build-up to a terrifying revelation. However, on the other hand, the term suggests that horror in and of itself can’t be sophisticated or can’t deal with difficult subject matter. Regardless of one’s personal opinions on the term, the past few years have seen an uptick in movies that arguably could be considered elevated — there have been good movies, but there certainly have been some bad movies.
“Run Rabbit Run” is neither of these. In fact, it doesn’t feel like anything at all, which is painful to type out as a major horror fan. It’s not like the premise didn’t have potential — fertility doctor Sarah (Sarah Snook) is a single mother to a young girl named Mia (Lily LaTorre), but the arrival of a mysterious white rabbit sends the two of them down, well, a rabbit hole of long-lost secrets.
Director Daina Reid proves herself to be a formidable force behind the camera, and screenwriter Hannah Kent’s pacing does manage to build dread. Unfortunately, its indecisive nature drains that dread and tension, both written and shot, once its underwhelming third act rolls around. Despite being buoyed by two great performances, the lingering feeling audiences will experience after “Run Rabbit Run” is disappointment.
It’s important to understand that “Run Rabbit Run,” despite its underwhelming aspects, is still a must-watch for two reasons: Snook and LaTorre. The former might be best known for her turn on HBO’s “Succession.” However, she actually has a pretty solid portfolio of genre film performances, particularly the Southern ghost story “Jessabelle” and the indescribable “Predestination.” It’s nice to see her return to something dark and horrific, and Snook gives a solid performance as a mother on the brink. She conveys hysteria without being campy and feels like she’s genuinely encompassed in fear. An impersonator of fellow Aussie Toni Collette in “Hereditary,” she is not.
However, Snook’s performance cannot be separated from LaTorre’s. She arguably delivers one of the most realistic depictions of early childhood in recent horror memory. This also is a testament to Kent’s script, as Mia’s various questions and tantrums sound on par with any seven-year-old, regardless of supernatural forces. The two actresses are quite convincing a mother/daughter pairing, even in the film’s quiet moments.
A Ghost Story With An Unclear Identity
The problem with “Run Rabbit Run” is that it just doesn’t seem to know what it is. A central theme of the film is that of identity, which is ironic since it can’t decide what it is – the film rapidly swings from being a ghost story, to a fairy tale, to a commentary on feminism and motherhood, and even a psycho-biddy romp at one point. Unfortunately, none of these come together cohesively, even though an effective combination of these ideas is possible.
It also doesn’t help that the visual storytelling falls flat. The film’s lighting is flat and dull, leaning far too dark in scenes that don’t necessarily need it. None of the sets are particularly interesting, but props do have to go to cinematographer Bonnie Elliott, who frames some pretty neat shots. A somewhat chilling one takes place in a garage, especially since it isn’t accompanied by the genre’s typical audiovisual cues.
Ultimately, almost everything in the film fell victim to its indecisive nature. By the time it settled on what it was about in its third act, all tensions and stakes seemed to dissipate, as it was pretty clear what would happen moving forward. While Snook and LaTorre give it their all, “Run Rabbit Run” is just another example of a movie not working unless it knows what it wants to be.
/Film rating: 4.5 out of 10
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