The Movie Waffler New Release Review - RUN RABBIT RUN | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - RUN RABBIT RUN

Run Rabbit Run review
A mother's suppressed past returns to haunt her when her daughter begins behaving strangely.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: Daina Reid

Starring: Sarah Snook, Lily LaTorre, Damon Herriman, Greta Scacchi

Run Rabbit Run poster

A decade ago I found myself constantly bemoaning the cheap reliance on jump scares in mainstream horror movies. Lazy as they might be, at least jump scares keep you awake. The current trend for "elevated" horror movies is rapidly devolving into a mass of uninspired, derivative films that have replaced jump scares with slow zooms, and thrills and suspense with character backstories, usually revolving around suppressed trauma. Christ they're dull.

The latest example is director Daina Reid and writer Hannah Kent's elevated Ozploitation thriller Run Rabbit Run. Like so many of these movies, it features a female protagonist suppressing a dark secret from her past. Here it's Sarah Snook as Sarah, a divorced mother to a seven-year-old, Mia (Lily LaTorre). We find Sarah struggling to move on from the death of her father, with whom she and Mia shared their home. It's years since she has seen her mother, Joan (Greta Scacchi), who is now resident of a care home. When Mia speaks about missing her grandfather, Sarah is sympathetic. But when Mia claims she's missing Joan, Sarah is confused, as Mia has never met Joan.

Run Rabbit Run review

As if that wasn't worrying enough for Sarah, Mia then claims to be Alice, Sarah's younger sister who mysteriously disappeared when she was Mia's age. When Sarah is called to Joan's care home to tie up some loose ends left by her father's passing, she stays with Mia in her childhood home, which only serves to dredge up a past Sarah is desperate to escape.

A recurring issue with so-called "elevated" horror movies is a lack of peril. It's unclear who we should be worried for here. Sarah is a far from sympathetic protagonist, so it's difficult for us to care what might happen to her, particularly when her backstory is teased out. And we know the movie is unlikely to kill a cute kid, so we're never all that concerned about Mia's fate. While inhabited by the spirit of Alice, or whatever's actually going on here, Mia is the one who poses a threat to Sarah in exposing her past. There are no supporting characters placed in peril either, so if you're playing a drinking game based on taking a shot every time someone meets a grisly end, your mouth will be as dry as the outback by the time the credits roll.

Run Rabbit Run review

Sarah's murky past is left ambiguous until the movie's dying minutes, but it's unlikely any viewer will be unable to put two and two together and figure it out long before that reveal. I can't understand why so many recent movies are choosing to withhold obvious plot details in this manner. Run Rabbit Run is yet another thriller that would undoubtedly have made for a more engaging watch had it laid its cards on the table rather than trying to outwit its audience. It's as though we're seeing the work of the first generation of genre filmmakers who are unfamiliar with the lessons of Hitchcock and are instead taking their storytelling cues from procedural TV shows.

Run Rabbit Run is almost devoid of anything that might be considered a scare, and it's barely a horror movie. A white bunny pops up, apparently as a harbinger of doom, but the shots of the cute lil critter accompanied by ominous music are about as terrifying as Night of the Lepus. Mia dons a hand-made pink bunny mask, which I guess is supposed to be unsettling, but the movie never makes it work.

Run Rabbit Run review

It's a shame the direction and script are so weak here, as there's some good work on display in other departments. Snook may be lumbered with an uninspired role but she does her best to humanise the character. LaTorre gives a very natural performance and manages to give the movie its few creepy moments. Cinematographer Bonnie Elliott makes effective use of the windswept Australian coast, all overcast skies and looming clouds. But the performances and cinematography only serve to highlight the film's narrative shortcomings.

Run Rabbit Run
 is on Netflix from June 28th.

2023 movie reviews