Run Rabbit Run works hard to deliver shocking twists and turns. Unfortunately they tend to be drawn out “surprises” you can see coming for miles.
Children bring so much innocence and joy to the world that it’s so jarring when we see them as the creepiest, most menacing creatures that have ever walked the earth. Daina Reid’s “Run Rabbit Run,” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is the latest to take on this terrifying trope as we see a once-sweet young child become a living nightmare.
Not to mention her mother is dealing with intense grief and trauma, so you can only imagine how peaceful this household is.
Reid’s film doesn’t give us anything remarkably new with its subgenre – many times it channels Jennifer Kent’s “The Babadook” – and it struggles with the way it tells its story, often holding a little too much back for the sake of drama. But “Run Rabbit Run” does have strong performances from Sarah Snook of “Succession” and Lily Latorre that make the psychological horror elements even more intense.
Sarah (Snook) is a fertility doctor who is struggling with grief following the death of her father, but tries to put on a good face for her daughter, Mia (Latorre). Based on first appearances, they appear to be living a good life in their chic Australian home. But cracks begin to appear as we see Sarah dodging phone calls from her mother’s caretakers and hiding her mother’s birthday card from Mia.
Soon, however, things start to change with Mia when she turns seven. A white rabbit appears in front of their home one day, enamouring Mia, but as much as Sarah wants to get rid of it, it makes its feisty presence known with a menacing bite. Mia also begins to act strange, calling herself Alice, and saying things like, “I miss people I’ve never met all the time,” which should raise all kinds of red flags.
The person she’s missing is her grandmother, who she has never met before in her life. When they do meet, her grandmother also calls her Alice, much to Sarah’s demise. Later on we learn that Alice was Sarah’s sister who, coincidentally, went missing when she was seven. The creepy vibes are off the charts here.
Even more cracks begin to show when we’re not even sure if we can trust Sarah. There’s a lot that she’s hiding from her past as it relates to Alice, and the more Mia begins to prod her with questions, the more Sarah unravels and can’t keep reality straight. A trip back to her childhood home in particular reveals horrors that have been buried down for decades.
Snook, far from her stuffy “Succession” character Siobhan, delivers a more restrained performance than what we’re used to, but it leads up to a true psychological trip. We’re left to question if anything she sees is actually real, especially when she’s forced to confront all that happened with Alice.
But she still does give us some of that Siobhan sharpness through thorny conversations with her ex Pete (Damon Herriman) and his new partner Denise (Naomi Rukavina). Latorre also dazzles with her committed performance as the world’s most annoying child who has lost all sense of reality and good manners. You can feel the tension between her and Snook in every scene and it’s riveting.
As good as the performances are, the script itself lacks much creativity. It has all the creepy notes you’d expect, like the foreboding animal motifs (rabbits galore!), confronting traumatic childhood pasts and a mom who is off her rocker. But that could all be looked aside if it weren’t for the pacing issues.
Understandably, “Run Rabbit Run” wants to set up big, shocking reveals, so it takes its time to unleash them. Unfortunately, that leads to dragged out setups, and because you can usually see the twists coming from early on, a not-as-impactful end result.
Despite its flaws, “Run Rabbit Run” will certainly raise hairs once it becomes available on Netflix. Fans of rabbits may want to look the other way, though.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
About Run Rabbit Run
Fertility doctor Sarah begins her beloved daughter Mia’s seventh birthday expecting nothing amiss. But as an ominous wind swirls in, Sarah’s carefully controlled world begins to alter. Mia begins behaving oddly and a rabbit appears outside their front door — a mysterious birthday gift that delights Mia but seems to deeply disconcert Sarah.
As days pass, Mia becomes increasingly not herself, demanding to see Sarah’s long-estranged, hospitalized mother (the grandmother she’s never met before) and fraying Sarah’s nerves as the child’s bizarre tantrums begin to point her toward Sarah’s own dark history. As a ghost from her past re-enters Sarah’s life, she struggles to cling to her distant young daughter.