Rabies Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado

Rabies Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado
If Rabies is any indication, Israeli filmmaking duo Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado have a lot to offer the horror genre. By refusing to explain the circumstances, this story of misdirected rage in the woods retains an aura of mystery, opting to focus on building familiarity with the unfortunate people swept up in a horrible comedy of errors. Intentionally baiting viewers into thinking they're in for some kind of torture-porn, the film starts in complete darkness. A woman has fallen into a trap in the forest and her brother, with implied forbidden love, leaves her to go find help after failing to free her. Instead of flashing back to find out how they got there, or going forward with the predictable arrival of a mastermind aggressor, we're introduced to a wider cast of characters: a man, his wife and their dog on a hunting trip, and four tennis players on their way to a tournament. A confluence of events brings them all into a series of situations where nobody knows what's going on, but perceptions based on limited information spur strong emotional responses and the roles of predator and prey blur greatly. There's a man who might be responsible for the initial trapping, but his role is much more specific and minor than anyone who's seen many horror films would presume. A couple of dirty cops get involved in the mess, with a particularly skin-crawling performance by Danny Geva. But not even the psyche of a power-tripping scumbag is simple in Rabies. Beneath the insidious anger leading these characters to impulsive acts of violence is the theme of being too late to make amends for unchecked emotions that damage relationships. Still, there's also a sense of humour to how perfectly, and randomly, wrong everything goes. It's a little bit like if Tucker and Dale vs. Evil was played straight, didn't run out of gas after milking the central gag and actually had something of substance to say. Rabies handily overcomes the shortcomings of a limited budget with simple, utilitarian, handheld camera work that lets the cleverly conceived and solidly acted script sell an unpredictable and compelling situation focusing on the human aspects of horror. A fresh take on well-worn ideas, Rabies is worth spreading, even without any extras to support the feature. (Mongrel Media)