Wednesday, February 08, 2012

An Introduction to Israeli Horror, Unpredictability and Even Rabies: A Movie Review

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*here be some spoilers.

**full disclosure: a DVD screener of this film was provided by Image Entertainment.

Directors/writers: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado.

Cast: Lior Ashkenazi, Danny Geva and Ania Bukstein.

Kalevet or Rabies is setting a precedent here on 28DLA. This is the first Israeli shot horror film or film of any kind to be reviewed on this site. And this is a great introduction to Israel's burgeoning film market. Rabies is classified as a serial killer film; however, the killer does not directly take anyone's life. The murder is left up to the incompetence of the cast. Much like William Shakespeare's "A Comedy of Errors," miscommunication and identity swaps create much of confusion and some of the enjoyment.

The film's story is quite complex because the plot will zig when you expect it to zag. Essentially, four young friends hook up and set out to a tennis tournament. Of course they take the wrong road and soon, their car is disabled after they run over a man exiting the nearby woods. The victim is Ofer (Henry David) and he has a tale of horror to share involving his trapped sister, Tali (Liat Harlev). She is trapped in a mine shaft. So, the three men head out to unentangle her. Back at the car, the girls call the local police for help. When the cops show up, the film really moves into dark territory with most characters turning on each other. The psychotic killer bounding through the woods is more of a mute enigma than cold blooded killer.

Mike (Ran Danker) is one of the youths helping Ofer and he has a secret to tell his friend Pini (Ofer Shechter). He has been dating the girl that Pini likes. Then, the violence begins with a pugilistic grudge match. The girls, Adi (Ania Bukstein) and Shir (Yael Grobglas), have problems of their own. One of the cops who turns up is a sexual predator and the strip search is awkward and probably not part of regular police procedure. However, Adi finds a way to revenge; she just needs to find a way to avoid all those mines in the forest. Kaboom! The other officer, Danny (Lior Ashkenazi) is misinterpreted as also being a sexual opportunist and this leads to a confrontation between him and Shir. Let the guns roar! All of these characters bring something to the story and each deals with the many difficult situations in different ways. The characters are the source of the film's unpredictability.

The script for Rabies is well written. Outside of the meaningless title, the story is full of well plotted red herrings including the inept serial killer's actions. One would expect the killer to be the source of much of the violence. Yet, this mono-syllabic speaker is often on the run from tranquilizer darts or finding one of his victims too hard to handle. One of the greatest psychopaths in the film comes from an unexpected place, which will not be revealed here. Just do not expect Rabies to intro' characters, begin the killing, intro' confrontation, escape and set up for a sequel. This film does not follow the formula of North American slasher films to its merit. Simply watch this movie with few expectations and enjoy the chaos of the moment.

Rabies will release on DVD February 28th through Image Entertainment and mark this date on your calendar. This is a great horror film from Israel with many gruesome moments. Hard to watch in moments, Rabies only offers one continuity error while directors Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado offer an experimental visual style. Sometimes the camera is upside down when you would expect it to be right side up. A great film, horror fans will gravitate to this feature naturally when it is released. Just purchase the "Unrated" version for all the necessary brutality.

Overall: 8.25 out of 10 (good writing, interesting characters, unpredictable, unique, bloody).

This review was influenced by Variety (John Anderson):

Rabies Reviewed at Variety

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