run rabbit run

Should You Watch It Online? Netflix’s ‘Run Rabbit Run.

5 minutes, 40 seconds Read

Sarah Snook, star of the Emmy-nominated series Succession, is the focal point of the psych-horror film Run Rabbit Run (currently streaming on Netflix) directed by Daina Reid (who won the award for directing episodes of The Handmaid’s Tale). While the animal in the title wags its cute widdle pink nosey-wosey and the soundtrack drones WBRRRMMMMM, this Australian film explores trauma, mental illness, and apparent supernatural possession. Sure, you might be sighing deeply at the familiarity of the plot, but the question is whether or not Snook’s acting chops are strong enough to save the film.

Sarah (Snook) seems to be harassed in all four roles she has played in her life: mother, daughter, sister, and ex-wife. Also, who exactly is the lowest common denominator here? Right. There may be fire where there isn’t any intention to do so. Moreover, some background is needed: Sarah’s father passed away not too long ago, and it seems they were close. Mia’s (Lily LaTorre) dad Pete (Damon Herriman) is celebrating her seventh birthday by bringing his wife and stepson home for cake and ice cream. Sarah and Pete are in a friendly and pleasant environment, even if things are still difficult between them and Mia’s new boyfriend. There are two interesting occurrences on this day: The first is the appearance of a white rabbit, which is so adorable and frightened that Mia immediately wants to keep it. The second is that Mia’s younger stepbrother bonks her on the head, which at first seems like typical sibling rivalry but may have longer-lasting consequences. Or not! I don’t know!

Sarah sneaks out that night after the guests have left and Mia is in bed to smoke a cigarette and burn Grandma Joan’s birthday card. Sarah’s mom looks like that. She may believe that by doing so, she is reducing the load on her back, but we all know that the opposite is true. The rabbit squeals and bites her, leaving a nasty oozing wound; consequently, it is no longer confined to a makeshift pen and is free to roam the house at will, causing the synthesizer player to lean heavily on the keys and, one assumes, defecate wherever it pleases. Most people would restrict the young nipper’s freedoms rather than expand them, but oh well, and moreover, the film has to keep returning to it for Moments of Ominous Portent.

Let’s stop talking about the rabbit, whom I refuse to name but am tempted to call a Red Herring. Let’s talk about the knock to the noggin. The following day, Mia demands a trip to see Grandma Joan. She has never met Grandma Joan but is eager to meet her. Yes, Grandma Joan, yes, Grandma Joan. Sarah resists, but she can’t put her finger on why, and she won’t tell Mia. Sarah has been avoiding her mother’s calls from the nursing home for a long time now, so perhaps it’s time to cut ties. Sarah discovers that Joan (Greta Scacchi) has dementia after a long drive (complete with the classic long overhead shot of a car driving along a winding country road) to see her. If she’d just pick up the phone, she’d know that already. Joan doesn’t know Sarah, but she runs up to Mia (whom she incorrectly calls “Alice”) and gives her a big hug. The elderly lady is visibly unwell and disoriented. After Sarah drags Mia yelling to the car, Mia demands to be called “Alice” from that point on. Just who is Alice, anyway? Who is she? Why, she’s Sarah’s late sister. Oh, well. It seems we have a psychological/paranormal conundrum on our hands.

run rabbit run

Sarah Snook appears in Run Rabbit Run by Daina Reid, an official selection of the Midnight section at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. | Photo by Sarah Enticknap. All photos are copyrighted and may be used by the press only for the purpose of news or editorial coverage of Sundance Institute programs. Photos must be accompanied by a credit to the photographer and/or ‘Courtesy of Sundance Institute.’ Unauthorized use, alteration, reproduction or sale of logos and/or photos is strictly prohibited.

What Other Films Will It Make You Think Of? : Run Rabbit Run has a lot in common with Hereditary and – perhaps because to the Australian influence – the Babadook. The Evil Rabbit, too! The Satan-o-bunny from The Witch and/or Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) come to mind immediately.

In Run Rabbit Run, Snook’s performance stands out above anything else because of how effectively she portrays a mother, daughter, ex-wife, and sister who has suffered profound trauma.

Famous Quote: “Mia slashWhen Alice confesses to her mother why she wants to meet the grandma she’s never known, she sends shivers up her mother’s spine. People I’ve never met are constantly on my mind.

Our Take: Snook is fantastic in Run Rabbit Run, and it’s a shame she has to work in the same universe as so many tired and repetitious cliches from Creepy Little Kid Movies, such as, but not limited to, the following nebulously occult problem-child behaviors:

Donning a homemade mask that is both vulgar and menacing
demanding that she use the identity of a deceased person
suffering from strange nosebleeds and head injuries
Producing unsettling artwork
Creating a psychic link with a pet
Doing or saying things that cause the lights to dim
Mia is obviously possessed. And by whom, you already know; yet, the film desperately wishes you wouldn’t know, or at least wouldn’t deduce the chain of events that led to this dramatic climax. You’ll figure it out; don’t worry. The film isn’t above flagrant attempts at gaslighting viewers or its severely wounded protagonist, so it’s also possible that Sarah isn’t possessed as f— and that everything is just a delusion.

This is not to imply that the film is without depth. Hannah Kent’s screenplay ruminates on the Womanhood Of It All, specifically the pressures of her present and how she resists the past’s attempt to encroach upon the peace (that in reality isn’t peace at all) she’s found in the wake of deeply unhealthy psychological compartmentalization, as Sarah tries to strike a balance between being the mother/daughter/ex-wife/sister that everyone needs her to be. Sarah is a frustrating protagonist; we want to sympathize with her, but she keeps locking herself in rooms with her demons and leaning on the doors instead of owning her shit, which could have resulted in a more compelling and original film rather than this hodgepodge of tired horror cliches that leads to an unsatisfying denouement. To the film’s credit, Reid opts for suspense over gore, directs with assurance and a keen cinematic eye, and coaxes a powerful performance out of Snook. But the content stumbles over too many cliches to be a serious exploration of the mind of a mother or a child.

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