Defiant Screen Entertainment, Rated MA.
Prolific Canadian genre-specialising co-directors, co-writers, co-producers and co-stars Jen and Sylvia Soska (a.k.a. ‘The Soska Sisters’ and ‘The Twisted Twins’) have made a selection of infamous shorts (Dead Hooker In A Trunk, Fight Like A Girl, Kill-Crazy Nymphos Attack) and a few features (American Mary, See No Evil 2, Vendetta), but here they aim high by trying to remake no less than David Cronenberg’s Rabid (1977). And rather mess it up too, although there’s plenty of ‘body horror’ in there, and some of it is pretty repulsive.
Rose Miller (Laura Vandervoort) is an aspiring fashion designer at Haus Of Gunter, although how she earned this position is a bit of a mystery given how anti-social, bad-tempered and snarky she can often be. She’s embarrassed at a work function (where the Soskas turn up in bitchy bit parts) and rushes off, only to have a motorbike accident, just as Marilyn Chambers (a porn star of the 1970s in one of her only straight roles) did in Cronenberg’s original pic.
Awakening to discover that the lower half of her face and jaw have been seriously disfigured (a convincing make-up trick), Rose retreats into seclusion before being sought out by one of those experimental medical facilities so popular in this sort of thing. Dr. William Burroughs (Ted Atherton) plays with genetics somehow (the monster-fying process was equally murky with Cronenberg too), and Rose is back to her gorgeous self and profoundly pleased.
However, wouldn’t you know it, she starts having dreams – or are they? – where she transforms or mutates into something horrible we don’t really see and attacks various Toronto residents. And they, in turn, are afflicted by a sub-28 Days Later virus that makes them go freakishly mental in the accepted fashion.
The Soskas know their stuff and include, for example, a vague cameo by ‘70s cult star Lynn Lowry (from Cronenberg’s Shivers, George Romero’s original The Crazies and so forth), but so much else here is awkward and often absurdly over-the-top, from Mackenzie Gray’s irksome performance as Gunter, to the silly if vaguely-seen Rose-monster, to the decidedly low-budget depiction of a city in chaotic lockdown.
And whatever next? The Soskas remake Cronenberg’s original Scanners with extra exploding heads? Remake his remake of The Fly? Or try a gender-swapped redo of DC’s Dead Ringers? With, say, Drew Barrymore as twin gynaecologists? Well, it could happen!