“Run Rabbit Run,” written by Hannah Kent and directed by Diana Reid, is an Australian creeper that is essentially more of a psychological thriller than full-on horror.
Sarah Snook stars as Sarah, a fertility doctor still mourning the death of her father, whose daughter Mia (Lily LaTorre) begins to inhabit strange behavior.
Along with claiming she misses her grandmother (who she never met), the young girl begins to believe she is Alice, Sarah’s sister who disappeared at the age of seven, Mia’s current age.
Sarah’s problems are many, as ex-husband Pete (Damon Herrimon) tells her he and his new wife are trying for a baby, a vicious bite from the rabbit Mia found in their porch, and a birthday card sent by someone from Sarah’s past that she prefers to forget.
As she proved many times before (especially in 2014’s “Predestination”), Sarah Snook is a very good actress and does great work here.
Snook pulls off the loving mother who starts to crumble under the strange goings on around her and Mia’s lives. It is only her daughter who can see her mother’s mental decline.
While cinematographer Bonnie Elliott captures the beauty of the Australian landscape and gives the nighttime scenes an eerie vibe, the film never really achieves the creep factor it reaches for.
Director Reid certainly shows skill as a filmmaker and gets good performances from her cast, but it is the screenplay that holds her back. There just isn’t enough happening to keep the story moving forward.
As the mystery begins to broaden, it only goes so far, hitting a dramatic wall. The same events (disturbing drawings a ’la “The Babadook,” Mia calling herself Alice, and the unwanted person from Sarah’s past) are presented over and over until their initial impact is rendered moot.
Soon, the quiet takes and spooky atmosphere lose their impact.
With its good cast and strong first act (unfortunately followed by a repetitious second half and bad finale), “Run Rabbit Run” is by no stretch a bad film, just undercooked.
Laura Moss’’s “Birth/Rebirth” is a vicious Frankenstein-esque fable that gets a motherly spin.
Judy Reyes is Celie, a nurse whose six year-old daughter dies while she is at work. After not being able to find her daughter’s body, she confronts the hospital’s pathologist Rose (Marin Ireland), a strange woman who is hiding something sinister.
Celie discovers Rose has taken her daughter and brought her back to life.
Director Laura Moss and co-screenwriter Brendan J. O’Brien crafted a disturbing character study of two women obsessed with controlling life and death.
Marin Ireland commits to the role, making Rose cold, eerily clinical, and dangerously unstable. The actress keeps the character grounded and far removed from the type of mannered maniac that we see too often in Horror cinema.
Ireland’s performance is the perfect flip side to Reyes’ Celie, a woman who is full of emotion and nurturing instinct.
With her debut feature film, Moss proves she knows her way around the mechanics of what makes a good Horror film, as she keeps its unnerving tone throughout.
Chananun Chotrungroj’s ghostly camerawork and Ariel Marx’s haunting synth score give the film a sinister aura. Every scene is filled with a proper sense of dread.
“Birth/Rebirth” is complete with both medical horror and God-complex terrors.
This is an unnervingly-quiet motion picture that dances between life and death and peeks inside the mind,
examining what turns us into monsters.
The 2023 Sundance Festival takes place January 19-29.