Published Apr 27, 2020A talented woman, overlooked by her peers, is manipulated into dating a man with ulterior motives. After a sudden makeover, she finds herself embraced by the people who once ignored her, and drama ensues. That's the plot of the 1999 prom-com She's All That, and it's also the plot of Rabid, the Soska Sisters' remake of the 1977 David Cronenberg horror film.
In place of Rachael Leigh Cook, Rabid follows Rose (Laura Vandervoort), a young seamstress struggling to rise out of the very bottom of the fashion world. Things seem to be looking up when she attends a party with her hunky colleague Brad (Ben Hollingsworth), but after learning that he had been talked into asking her out, she leaves the date in distress. She is seriously disfigured in a traffic accident heading home, leading her to pursue an experimental surgery with a mysterious, cult-like medical organization.
The film eventually turns into a zombie-style gore fest, but it's the subtle first half that's actually more gripping. Vandervoort steals the show with her well-acted journey from underdog to victim to post-recovery hotshot. It's an introspective take on body horror, as personal insecurities mingle with life-or-death injuries.
Rabid loses its way in the second half, as Rose's emotional journey gets bogged down by zombie tropes. Having miraculously healed after surgery, Rose is more confident and successful than ever — but it's difficult to care much about her rise in the fashion world when there's bloody chaos erupting on the streets. A scene in which Rose designs an avant-garde dress is portrayed as a climactic personal triumph, but it comes across as silly compared to her murderous fever dreams and sudden bloodlust. Imagine if The Devil Wears Prada had a zombie subplot and you'll get a basic sense of the tone.
Muddled messaging aside, Rabid stays entertaining throughout. It's not going to reinvent the zombie genre, but it's got enough emotional depth to keep viewers invested. (A71)