Rabid is a 2019 Canadian body horror feature film directed by Jen and Sylvia Soska as The Soska Sisters (See No Evil 2; American Mary) from a screenplay co-written with John Serge (Dead on Campus), based on David Cronenberg’s 1977 film of the same name.
The Film Mode Entertainment production stars Laura Vandervoort (Jigsaw), Benjamin Hollingsworth and Phil Brooks (C.M. Punk), Greg Bryk and Stephen McHattie.
A “Plain-Jane” designer is having difficulty standing out in the world of high fashion among flawlessly beautiful models including her own roommate. Relegated to the role of a seamstress for a world-renowned designer, Sarah wants nothing more than to be noticed for her own designs. When she witnesses the closeness of her model roommate with Brad, the photographer she has grown close to, Sarah rushes from a party feeling angry and hurt. A resulting traffic accident leaves her with significant scars on her face and body.
Based on the referral from her apologetic roommate, Sarah meets with a renowned plastic surgeon that convinces her to undergo a highly experimental healing procedure that uses stems cells to speed up and improve healing. She recovers to find herself looking as beautiful as the models she works with. Sarah finds her confidence and libido increased, leading to several torrid encounters.
Unbeknownst to her, Sarah sets off a spiralling contagion, as within 24 hours her lovers become rabid, violent spreaders of death and disease. As the disease mutates, it spreads through society at an accelerated rate causing an ever-increasing number of people to rampage through the streets in a violent and bloody killing spree.
The now out of control disease draws the attention of the CDC and the nefarious plastic surgeon out to find the cure. The spreading violence around them impedes them from discovering the truth. Sarah is both the source of the disease and its cure… and time is running out…
Reviews [click links to read more]:
“This both works and doesn’t. Using the fashion industry as their template they explore issues around feminism and animal cruelty. However, it has the same issues as the original whilst the ‘contemporisation’ can feel clunky. Having said that, Rabid is still an entertaining and thought-provoking horror…” Backseat Mafia
“So much of this update is funneled into Rose’s transformation and agency, though, that all other supporting characters are largely forgotten […] The finale is an exciting promise of go for broke body horror that leaves you with more questions than you went in with. But the gore and makeup effects are worth the price of admission…” Bloody Disgusting
“21st-century Rabid is much more than a movie love in with one of the greats of the genre. The Soska Sisters successfully steer the big idea of Rabid into places that allow them to tell their own nightmare horror vision. They intertwine the vacuous desires to be someone else/something else that the fashion and plastic surgery industries perpetuate.” BritFlicks
“Some may dismiss Rabid for somehow slighting David Cronenberg’s sacrosanct filmography or because merely mentioning “Soska” induces an eye roll. Take it from someone without any allegiance to either, Rabid’s warts add to its appealing weirdness. It’s sometimes sloppy and sometimes goofy. Overall, Rabid remains a satisfying shocker provided you don’t hold it to any unattainable aspirations.” Culture Crypt
“While Jen and Sylvia deserve points for trying, and despite the welter of practical effects which usually get the thumbs up from me, I really didn’t like this film. I found it pointless, cold, and all surface – just like the fashion business that provides the setting. Maybe that was the point.” Dark Eyes of London
“The Soska Sisters bring an eye for design and a vivid imagination to the table and they paint their canvas with nightmarish ferocity. There are nods to Cronenberg along the way but The Soska Sisters have ensured that they put their own stamp on Rabid and it’s sure to garner them plenty of positive attention.” Entertainment Focus
“For many, Rabid‘s biggest disappointment will be its tepid approach to gore and actual body horror; early makeup effects of Rose’s disfigured face look cheap and unconvincing, while even the later blood-letting is mostly unremarkable, placing a dull capper on the relatively dopey third act […] And at 110 minutes long, it feels desperately in need of its own nip and tuck.” Flickering Myth
“The Soska Sisters have brought their own pet themes surrounding beauty standards and the expectations surrounding women to the forefront of a central concept that offers rich potential for allegory, as well as plenty of room for blood to flow, prosthetics to squelch and audiences to grimace. This is a glimpse into the rancid heart of cinema, and it’s a joy.” Flickering Myth
“After a couple of projects that didn’t fully demonstrate their full potential, the Soska’s are back on form with this visceral dark fairytale, one that puts them firmly back on the horror radar as filmmakers to watch. Seductive, sensual, and gory as Hell, Rabid is a rare example of a remake worthy of your time.” The Hollywood News
” …Rabid is their strongest outing and an example of how “reimagining” isn’t just a word for distributors. Right at the beginning, a character asks “why do we keep remaking old trends? Are we adding something new?” In this case, I’d say definitely. The horror elements are spot-on, with anarchic, high adrenaline gore sequences.” Horror Cult Films
“Rabid is a triumphant return to form for the Twisted Twins, who apply their own talent for grisly body horror to an interesting story with neat visuals. It lacks the originality of David Cronenberg, but Jen and Sylvia Soska still find plenty of room to make their voices heard, and this version of Rabid their own.” Horror DNA
” …the directing duo have taken a film that was thematically very much of its time and updated it brilliantly for ours today. Pulling no punches in what they want to say, Rabid should leave everyone a little uncomfortable in their seat. The Soskas have lovingly recreated David Cronenberg’s classic for a modern audience without it feeling like a remake.” Jump Cut Online
” …a wild inconsistency of tone between effective black comedy (a freakout on a soap opera set, with a hilarious cameo by Greg Bryk as a director delighted by method carnage) and the sort of horror hash we’ve seen too often. Even the script oscillates between smartly-written exchanges and thudding exposition…” The Kim Newman Web Site
“Gorier and visually more explicit than Cronenberg’s original, the effects build and build in their complexity and visceral nature, culminating in the appearance of “thing” living at Burroughs Institute where Rose’s terrifying journey began. Even the denouement to Rabid continues the female-focus of the Soska’s vision…” Nerdly
“This neon-lit reimagining certainly bears the original superficial structure of the original as well as many of its narrative details (even the manically mean-spirited shooting of a Santa Claus!), slightly transformed – but the film, like Rose herself, harbours something different underneath that will only gradually emerge, fully revealing itself in the closing scenes.” Projected Figures
” …it’s a terrible, terrible film that tries to expand the story into the fashion world to no great effect (beyond some laughably bad fashion), allows important points – you know, like the motorbike accident that sets everything in motion – to take place off-screen […] and is awash with bad acting and clumsy dialogue, while the continual references to Cronenberg’s work quickly start to wear thin.” The Reprobate
“By the time Rabid draws to its blood-soaked conclusion, you’re either fascinated with Rose’s journey or you were bored halfway through due to the movie’s slow pace. But those who stick by the movie’s exploration of self-worth and sexuality will find a poignant if not completely subtle commentary on the fashion and healthcare industry. Make no mistake, this movie is as infectious as the virus that Rose carries.” Slash Film
On 7 October 2019, 101 Films released Rabid in the UK on Blu-ray and DVD.
In the USA, Shout! Studios released Rabid theatrically in select locations and on Digital and VOD on December 13th 2019.
Buy DVD: Amazon.co.uk
Cast and characters:
- Laura Vandervoort … Rose
- Benjamin Hollingsworth … Brad Hart
- C.M. Punk … Billy
- Greg Bryk … Director
- Stephen McHattie … Doctor Keloid
- Stephen Huszar … Dominic
- Jen Soska … Ellie
- Mackenzie Gray … Gunter
- Tara Yelland … Cameron
- Lynn Lowry … Doctor Cynthia Burroughs
- Sylvia Soska … Bev
- Tristan Risk … Nurse Dana
- Avaah Blackwell … Gunter’s Model
- Ted Atherton … Doctor William Burroughs
- Allison Feliciano … Gunter’s Model
Audio: Dolby Digital
Aspect ratio: 1.78: 1