RUN RABBIT RUN, directed by Daina Reid, is an Australian horror-thriller that like any decent genre film, explores themes of guilt, grief, and generational trauma. Elisabeth Moss was originally attached to the film, but had to pull out due to scheduling issues, resulting in the role being recast with Sarah Snook. But despite a phenomenal performance from Snook, the film struggles in consistency, with monotonous scenes that don’t add much to the story and instead make the second act drag.
Still, I love that there are so many creative female powerhouses behind and in front of the camera. The film does a great job conjuring up creepy, haunting imagery, thanks to cinematographer Bonnie Elliott, and the heavy final act is sure to stick with you. I also love that screenwriter Hannah Kent never gets too expositional with the dialogue, choosing instead to trust the audience’s intelligence, particularly in the way she hints at the main character’s mental health struggles, instead of spelling everything out.
Set in Australia, Sarah (Snook) is a successful fertility doctor that is struggling with raising her young daughter Mia (Lily LaTorre) amidst a painful divorce and the death of her beloved father. At Mia’s birthday, Sarah starts to notice a change in her daughter’s behavior; she starts insisting she is not Sarah’s daughter and says she misses people she has never mentioned before. The random appearance of a white rabbit, who Mia immediately latches onto, only increases the weirdness of it all.
Sarah becomes more and more concerned as Mia becomes further detached from her and the life she once knew. When Sarah visits her estranged mother, who is suffering with dementia in a nursing home, she is shocked that Mia and her mother act as if they know each other, despite the two never meeting before. Her mother supports the claims that Mia is not Sarah’s daughter, which further adds to Sarah’s mental and emotional distress. Is Sarah the reliable narrator we think she is or is there something more sinister going on?
Despite a runtime at just over 90 minutes, RUN RABBIT RUN feels too long and begins to lose steam midway through. With such a compelling beginning and end, I wonder if it would have been best suited as a short to eliminate the need for filler in the second act. The film is billed as a “modern day ghost story” and I can see that in the specter of loss that permeates each scene. But it does a lot better as a psychological thriller than a horror film; the biggest scare for me was Mia’s creepy rabbit mask and whether any harm would come to the rabbit (thankfully, it doesn’t).
Snook carries the entire film on her shoulders and gives an emotionally compelling performance that is different from any role she has done before. Because I already love her work, I found myself immediately sympathetic to and invested in her character, even as she became more and more unhinged. However, I fear those that aren’t as familiar with her will be frustrated and screaming at the screen due to her character’s poor decision-making. We don’t spend enough time with Sarah (the character) to form a bond with her before things start going off the rails, which makes it hard to root for her as the film progresses… especially when she is having such a combative relationship with her child and her point of view is becoming more and more unclear.
RUN RABBIT RUN is not a memorable thriller, but if you are a Sarah Snook fan (like I am) it’s a must-see for her performance alone. Netflix bought the distribution rights at Sundance, so expect to see it on the streaming giant sometime later this year!
My Review: C