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{Sundance 2023} Run Rabbit Run – review

January 22, 2023
Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

“I miss people I’ve never met all the time,” 7-year-old Mia told her mother Sarah in an early scene from Run Rabbit Run.

An innocent uttered a sentence beyond her years, barely alarming, which surprises Sarah (Succession(Sarah Snook) and the audience. Kids can be scary, and Daina Reid’s feature debut, starring an impressive Lily LaTorre as Mia, falls squarely into the canon of precious, precocious kids scaring the hell out of their parents.

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, Run Rabbit Run draws on too many horror tropes, borrowed and packed into an atmospheric tale set in South Australia. The result doesn’t feel original, although it ticks all the boxes for an entertaining and weird watch. Hinting at secrets buried in all of our homes, this is perfect streaming content – ​​no wonder Netflix picked up the distribution rights before the film even premiered in Park City.

Run Rabbit Run is about guilt as well as heartbreak

Mia’s initial sentence may put someone off by implying that this is a ghost story. Somehow, that’s when she develops a sinister, though understandable, interest in loved ones who are no longer with her. Or never really were.

There’s unprocessed trauma looming on the little girl’s seventh birthday, anticipated by a cute, clingy bunny who’s in love with her. But Run Rabbit Run is about both guilt and grief, Snook’s brilliantly ambiguous turn in which Sarah is the best part of it.

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In the first act, we learn that the protagonist has a strained relationship with her mother Joan (Greta Scacchi), who is in a facility following the death of her husband Al (Neil Melville). Mia has never met her grandmother, but she becomes uncontrollably fascinated with her, pestering Sarah to finally introduce them.

A mother bear in her boss veneer, Sarah is less than impressed with Mia’s pristine, furry new friend. Just like his daughter’s obsession with Joan. Despite their best efforts, neither will leave. Nor is the unsettling feeling that she and Mia may not be alone in their home.

A matriarchal family history

Like fellow Aussie Horror Relic, Reid’s film also features a matriarchal family at risk of being upended by miscommunication and skeletons in the closet, both figurative and literal.

Joan’s dementia praecox conveniently plays into Mia’s assurance that her name is, in fact, Alice. Just like Sarah’s younger sister, who disappeared decades before. When she was seven, to be exact.

Intense eye contact and uncomfortable questions, Mia tests her mother, causing the woman’s carefully constructed reality to unravel through imperceptible stares and increasingly defensive demeanor. But who is Sarah really trying to protect?

The idea of ​​a connection between Mia and Alice is splashed through the film’s central act through repetitive, not-so-subtle symbolism. Mia’s new pet, the pink bunny mask she wears everywhere she goes, the nickname Bunny… All the elements obviously have a nod to Alice in Wonderland.

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Cinematographer Bonnie Elliot’s camera lowers the angle in crucial shots to reflect the rabbit’s point of view, while simultaneously suggesting that something, or someone, might just be visiting from below.

Sarah’s past may come back to bite her

The gloomy Australian skies cast a shadow over Sarah’s dysfunctional family life, as her ex-husband Pete (Damon Herriman) informs her that he and his new partner Denise (Georgina Naidu) are trying to get pregnant.

“I thought we agreed that Mia would be an only child,” Sarah replies, and you get the sense there’s more to her words than just a remnant of possession over an ex.

Just like with the rabbit, the protagonist wants to get rid of any vermin that might tarnish her carefully constructed world. Soon, it becomes clear that the principal’s controlling attitude might just come back to bite her.

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Run Rabbit Run’s Final Act Redeems Its Predictable Plot

Reid’s film takes a twist in the final act, with Sarah determined to leave her past behind in the place where tragedy struck: her childhood home.

This is the part where Hannah Kent’s screenplay slips into a menagerie of horror cliches. As if reading a How to Write a Scary Story 101 textbook, Run Rabbit Run features a shed with rusting tools, an isolated house immersed in unforgiving wilderness, and more family portraits than can be taken in during its run. life.

It’s a lot and takes time away from some undercooked areas of the movie. The relationship between Sarah and Joan would have benefited from more scenes but remains confined to the few authorized visits to the clinic. Nonetheless, Scacchi’s character still manages to deliver one of the film’s most terrifying lines, finding the key to opening all those locked doors from forever ago.

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The finale redeems the film’s predictability, offering a bold twist and welcome to the mother-daughter horror dynamic. Taking advantage of the inescapable structure of moral fables, the last moments of the film play on an “eye for an eye” logic. Without reserve, the characters reap what they have sown. There are also no tricks to make the terrible outlook more palatable to the audience.

Palatable is Reid’s film, a well-executed horror film that makes the most of the legacy of its predecessors without adding much to the canon. You know where it’s taking you and you’re happy to follow the path, even if it’s familiar and confusing. It works great, but, unlike the memories of people you’ve lost, it won’t haunt you for very long.

Stefania Sarrubba

Stefania Sarrubba is a feminist entertainment writer based in London, UK. Traumatized from a young age by Tim Curry and Dario Argento’s Pennywise movies, she grew up convinced that horror wasn’t her thing. Until she gets into cannibal films with a female protagonist. Yum.

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