Gruesome Cronenberg Remake From The Soska Sisters

With Coronavirus hysteria sweeping the globe, a timely re-imagining of David Cronenberg’s cult classic Rabid hits home video. Sister tag team Jen & Sylvia Soska (American Mary) direct a frightening tale of body horror and viral mania starring Laura Vandervoort (Smallville). The slick update pays homage to the original while smartly changing a few elements for contemporary society.

The horror genre has seen an increasing wave of remakes in recent years, a few worthwhile films in a sea of mostly uninspired retreads. David Cronenberg’s second film Rabid starred adult film star Marilyn Chambers. About a viral pandemic that turns normal people into growling creatures with a taste for human flesh, the Seventies’ underground classic struck a chord and made horror lovers increasingly aware of a rising director with a keen appreciation of truly frightening concepts.

Cronenberg practically invented the modern idea of body horror, exploring man’s twisted connection with technology and form. Rabid is the first of Cronenberg’s films receiving a remake. The Soska sisters tackle Rabid with style and pitch-black irony, setting Rose’s tale in the world of high fashion.

Rabid is a frightening tale of body horror and viral mania

Horribly disfigured in a car accident, Rose (Laura Vandervoort) is offered a miraculous stem cell treatment that completely heals her disfigured face. In fact, the treatment works better than advertised. Rose now looks like the models she works with as a fashion designer. Her life improves immensely even as she begins experiencing weird cravings. She starts suffering from increasingly disturbed dreams that have the dedicated vegetarian eating meat and blood.

The beautiful Laura Vandervoort is perfectly cast as Rose. Rabid sees a haggard-looking Vandervoort induced by make-up transform into the confident and stunning version of Rose after the procedure. Exploring transhumanism, the sinister procedure by the doctor has deadly and terrifying consequences far beyond Rose herself. A viral pandemic threatens to engulf the city as infected start tearing up anything in sight.

Loaded with gore and vivid body horror, Rabid is not for the squeamish. Stylishly pulled off, the infected come off as frightening and deadly realistic. It’s only b-movie magic, but nicely crafted b-movie magic.

Nods to the original Rabid are included but don’t it weigh down. Yes, an infected person with a tentacle growing from the armpit shows up. It’s a straight horror movie by the Soska sisters, so expect the unusual and interesting. There’s a smart social critique underlying Rabid that can be entirely ignored, resulting in the next evolution of body horror.

Video

Scream Factory’s 1.85:1 presentation fairly renders Rabid’s shifting, oversaturated palette. Rabid is reasonably sharp with decent definition. Picture quality is surprisingly revealing in the goriest moments. Flesh-tones often have a sickly yellow push in the stylized color grading. The 1080P video has nice, sharp detail without ever reaching the limits of what Blu-ray can offer. The transfer doesn’t have any overt problems.

The main feature runs 107 minutes on a BD-50. The steady AVC encode is decent without noticeable compression issues. Consistent black levels help support the above average clarity and contrast. Shadow delineation could be slightly improved but there are no scenes of rampant crushing. Rabid isn’t really eye candy but certainly deserves Blu-ray.

Audio

Rabid has fantastic 5.1 DTS-HD MA sound. The lively surround mix provides excellent atmosphere and discrete channel separation, including rear action. Audio elements play a major role in select scenes. The discordant score by Claude Foisy perfectly fits the gruesome action and terrifying body horror visuals. Bigger cues like the car crash hit with appropriate thunder and impact across the front soundstage. This is first-rate audio for indie horror.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in a white font.

Extras

Scream Factory provide a slipcover for initial pressings. The big draw here is the excellent directors’ commentary, a fun discussion that always entertains. The Blu-ray is locked to Region A.

Audio Commentary – Directors Jen & Sylvia Soska discuss their film in broad terms, often pointing out inspirations and wider themes in their work while being as candid as possible. The two sisters are having fun and this is one of the more lively commentaries available. Horror fans should definitely check it out.

Behind The Scenes With Jen & Sylvia Soska (16:21 in HD) – Filmed in a couple of different locations, Paul McEvoy works as a moderator of sorts interviewing the two sisters while on the set. They discuss their love of David Cronenberg, their early filmmaking history and influences. Cronenberg’s The Fly remake is mentioned. There are some audio issues that hamper this featurette.

An Interview With Actress Laura Vandervoort (04:04 in HD) – A brief interview held by Paul McEvoy. Laura discusses working on a project in Canada and repeatedly hearing about the Soska sisters, which is how she got involved. The biggest issue here is how short the interview lasts; a longer and more in-depth interview would have been fantastic.

Rabid Trailer (01:47 in HD)

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Rabid
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The Soska sisters’ fresh take on Cronenberg’s terrifying body horror classic works with star Laura Vandervoort transforming into a dangerous beauty.

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