“Rabies,” an Israeli narrative directed by Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, begins with a scene comparable to the beginning of many predictable camp horror movies. A group of four wild, empty-headed adolescents become trapped in a shady forest when their car breaks down, and, one by one, they are soon killed off in violent and extremely graphic ways.
This overly exploited premise is not only predictable, but also, aside from the gore, quite boring. However, as “Rabies” progresses, every death leads further and further away from this plotline, eventually leaving viewers wondering how things went so horribly wrong.
The movie follows two storylines that diverge then converge with deadly results. There is the incestuous pair of siblings who are trying to escape from the clutches of a psychopathic killer. As the brother searches for help, he runs into a group of four young tennis players on their way to a match. While the two men in the group go off to help the wounded and scared brother, the two women are discovered and sexually harassed by a rogue police officer and his partner. Perhaps due to such stressful circumstances, each character begins to lose control of his mind, as if infected by some unstoppable disease. The invisible “rabies” that is consuming their minds heighten their emotions, and when fear turns to paranoia and jealousy to rage, horrific deaths ensue.
The camerawork is too shaky even for a horror film and the acting leaves much to be desired. The angle at which much of the film is shot feels amateur and too narrow in scope to give enough detail of the surrounding scene. What makes the film unique is its variance from the campy horror film plot progression. As the body count accumulates, one gets the feeling that a supernatural force is perverting the minds of these people. Though the motive for each death—from jealousy to sheer misfortune—is clear and very human, one is left with a confused and sickening feeling even past the rolling credits.