Twin Horror is one of the oldest tricks in the horror hand book. For hundreds of years folk lore and film have regarded twins with a weary eye, putting twins and doppelgängers in the same basket of eerie impending doom. Luke Shanahan’s Rabbit takes that idea and makes a film as odd and disorientating as Twin Horror really should be.
Maude (Adelaide Clemens – No One Lives) is a medical student haunted by the disappearance of her identical twin sister, Cleo, 12 months previously. Victim to intense visions and dreams in which her missing twin is still alive, she returns home, sure she knows her sister’s whereabouts.
It’s a psychological thriller in its purest form, using mystery and intrigue to fully disarm and dissorientate. Shanahan never deals a stronger hand than when he’s flitting between dreams and reality or the perspectives of the two sisters, often to the point were often not sure which twin we are following. It’s a film which packs a few great reveals in its last act so the less said abotu the destination the better, but suffice to say there’s a nicely considered approach to the overuse of the twin trope. Shanahan’s not daft and he knows the audience arrive at any kidnap film, never mind twin film, with a toolbox of tropes ready to be ticked off. It’s nice then to be continually batted off by the conversational nature of the film’s threat. Shanahan deserves much credit for sticking to his guns, Rabbit’s a film with little catharsis and a lot of intrigue, bolstered by a dreamy aesthetic.
A lot of praise needs to be heaped on the technical side of Rabbit. From soundtrack to cinematography it’s a perfectly orchestrated, but never over-styled, chiller. Anna Howard’s sedate cinematography captures the dreamy essence of memory with nicely overexposed images. Michael Darren’s soundtrack is a similarly sedate affair wafting through the film like a casually civilising influence which is abruptly cut numerous times. So, in a way, it’s the editing which really helps capture Rabbit’s vibe though, ensuring it’s prettiest elements are cut in the most disorientating ways. Be it the haunting flashes to a red screen, or the abrupt way the soundtrack disappears with a scene change, Rabbit isn’t particularly conventional though it may look so. It’s trying to make you feel the emotional disorientation Maude and Cleo feel, and it does pretty well. By the last act Rabbit has arrived somewhere we wouldn’t have expected. The answer to Cleo’s whereabouts throws us little solace, in fact it makes the scenario even more bizarre and horrifying. Again, no spoilers, but that final act introduces us to a whole group of intriguing characters, best of which is Veerle Baetens lovely, though totally insidious, mysterious doctor.
Shanahan’s debut is an odd little dream of a film nestled somewhere in the psychological thriller genre where it gestates into numerous off-kilter but ambitious concepts. By the end you’ll feel like a Rabbit caught in the headlights of something you never saw coming. Complex, beautifully constructed, and enticingly odd, Shanahan’s debut is a superb advert for the types of films we can expect from the new Aussie talent.
Dir. Luke Shanahan
Stars. Adelaide Clemens, Veerle Baetens, Alex Russell, Jonny Pasvolsky, David Jobling