Film critics are calling "Rabies" by directors Ahron Keshales and Navot Paposhaddo the first Israeli horror film. And reviewers do seem quite horrified.
In fact, the movie has been branded with scathing reviews from nearly every newspaper and film reviewer out there. The Jerusalem Post titled their review, "Cure for ‘Rabies’: Don’t see it", and ioncinema.com declared that "Keshales Gives Israeli Cinema a case of the "Rabies". One or two reviewers didn't take the movie quite as seriously and manged to enjoy themselves, but on the whole, the film didn't quite make it big.
Despite reviews and massive hype, I had to go see "the first Israeli horror film" out of pure curiosity.
(I also happen to be friends with one of the lead actors in the film. No, I'm not going to tell you who. You'll just have to guess.)
My review in short: this is a film that isn't going to make waves in the world of Israeli cinema or cinema in general. Maybe it was trying to be ambitious- and maybe the hype makes it easier to hate the movie. I didn't hate it (the fake blood was funny, as was the ridiculous plot, second rate acting and the ridiculous b-movie style) but I definitely didn't think it was good. It was ... what it was. A poorly made horror movie with a really loose plot that strayed from some essential horror movie conventions in an attempt to try and make the movie somehow "Israeli'.
There's one main problem with the movie. ( Stop reading here if you are planning on seeing the movie and don't want me to spoil your fun. )
Main problem: the film is trying to be particularly Israeli, but doesn't go the whole nine yards. At the end of the film, the final line specifically insinuates that the stock horror movie doesn't work in Israel simply because the entire country is full of assholes who are ready to kill one another at the drop of a hat. Everyone in Israel is the victim, and everyone is the killer. Or so the movie seems to claim.
This is incorporated into the film by removing a central horrific figure. The guy who you think is gonna be the crazy killer in the beginning of the film never actually kills anyone in the movie.
It's an interesting idea, but the problem with this is: a) it makes the plot is really loose, arbitrary and hardly compelling b)the characters aren't particularly Israeli in dress, character, language, or appearance. In fact, they are surprisingly American.
For example, four of the main characters are clean, pretty kids dressed in clean tennis outfits on their way to play a game at some country club. It has to be noted that there simply are no Israelis that dress in clean, preppy tennis gear like that and/or play tennis at exclusive country clubs (I mean, there are no exclusive country clubs in Israel).
It becomes a bit boring...and a bit too silly. And this is coming from an easily frightened blonde American who covers her eyes when she even thinks that something scary might happen on screen.
So, go see it if you want to have a few laughs, if you want to support Israeli cinema, or if you;re just plain curious. But if you are hoping for a great horror film, or a spectacular Israeli horror debut, this one isn't it.
Here's some free footage so you can get an idea (sorry to all you English speakers, but the movie is in Hebrew!)
|Me and Yotam, excited for the movie|
|This is what happened to us after the movie|
|It was very gruesome|
|And then it got trippy|