Years ago, I was quick to profess my love for the Soska twins. They were critical darlings in the independent horror scene, but more importantly (this could get me in trouble), they were hot. I enjoyed See No Evil 2 for what it was. As for American Mary, their breakout character study of a come-hither mortician (is there any other kind?), I haven’t even seen it. I’m not proud of this fact, but I met the girls through interviews. They were spunky, sweet-tempered, and yes, violently voluptuous. I’m lucky that they didn’t pry into my feigned fandom when I met them at a convention. It’s not that I deplore their directorial resume. From what I’ve discerned, they do have a knack for conjuring slick, shuddersome visuals.
But this isn’t a review of the Soska twins as people; this is a review of their remake of 1977’s Rabid, David Cronenberg’s ode to contagion and armpit vaginas. I didn’t realize it before pressing play, but this was the first (and to date, only) movie that Sir David has allowed to be remodeled. My choice of words is premeditated. The Soskafied Rabid takes place in the world of fashion. Rose, a fledgling, enterprising designer would kill for her sketches to be noticed by the eccentric Gunter (more on him later), but before she can make any headway, she is damn near splintered by the bumper of a wandering car. The result is a hideous mouth wound. Unwilling to wait for cosmetic surgery, Rose seeks the care of an experimental clinic. I think you can see where this is heading.
The operation is a success, but the side effects involve harrowing hunger pangs, a stomach for human flesh, and random tentacle flare-ups (understatement of the century). As you may have noticed, this is not a shot-for-shot retelling of the original. I hate to use this term, but the modern day Rabid is basically a reimagining. Laura Vandervoort gives a focused, broad-spectrum performance as Rose. Credit the Soska-penned screenplay for proffering their lead a three-dimensional role to embody. The rest of the cast is fine, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention CM Punk. He enjoys wrangling a throwaway part – a stewed sleazebag – and his wife joins in on the fun as a journalist. That’s right; A.J. Mendez has attained “call sheet” status. If you include the Soska cameos, you’ve got yourself a threesome joke that I’m much too dignified to disclose.
The pacing is balanced. Going further down the “body horror” checklist, I am happy to report that the gore reaches near-extravagant levels of butchery. Apart from a singular instance of CGI, the special effects unit was clearly up to the task at hand. Now for the mishaps, or to sound all objective about it, the trials and tribulations. The storyline is easy to follow up to the icky finale, but the more our antagonist explains the particulars of Rabid‘s chief epidemic, the more convoluted everything becomes. The guy creates plot holes out of thin air. Plus, some of the characters come across as ridiculously exaggerated. Case in point, Gunter.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Gunter, but only because of his unintentional comedic value. To give you an idea of his absurdity, one user review on IMDb (accurately) compared him to Will Ferrell in Zoolander. I shouldn’t be picking up those kinds of vibes from Rabid, whether it be this rendition or the 1977 version. Due to the underwhelming resolution, I shuffled away from the film with a sour taste in my gallbladder. The person I watched it with (Paul…you know Paul) felt that I was being too generous with my rating. I thought I wasn’t being generous enough. If a Soska sister is reading this, I told Paul to go fuck himself. You hear that, Paul??? Remind me to kick your ass!