As well all know, there are only a handful of remakes that pass muster, and even less that improve on their original. It can be argued that The Thing by Carpenter is a better film than the 50s version. Most people would agree that Cronenberg’s updating of The Fly is an example of how you can take something that people love as a bit of fluff, and change it to produce something significantly more worthy.
The Soska sisters started off by creating a no/low budget indie all by themselves, real D.I.Y. beginnings. They hit their stride with a promising effort called American Mary, you could see an auteurship blossoming, they had their own style and themes. Those themes had influence, and Cronenberg was the main one. Surgical experimentation, and beauty being in the eye of the beholder, what is beauty?
Just as it looked like they’d dropped the ball, after working with hulking wrestlers in decidedly average junk, it even looked like they were moving away from the horror genre with a brainless cop film as the last showing before Rabid. What happens, but they come back with not only their best work, but the nod to Cronenberg being wrapped up in the first remake of the master’s entire back catalogue.
Who would dare to copy him? Would they go a completely different direction? It’s a bit of a drive in the middle of the road, yet never derivative. To take one of his earlier films is a good choice, with all the love in the world for this film, even the most earnest fan could admit it was a platform for what greatness was to come for a man who dominated his field, and went as far as to invent a genre; body horror. There was space to add layers and complexity.
That is exactly what the Soska sisters do. Nods to their earlier American Mary, but going further. This is a modern feminist piece about how fear does not need to hold you down in life, and how women can use loyalty instead of jealousy to survive a world of vanity and greed. We go on a trip into contagion, how apt it feels right now. Watching this film last year might not have had the same effect, yet now has a profundity that marks it above the ‘simple slasher’ reviews some garbaged it with. A similar film from a few years ago got fantastic raves, although its subject matter is treated on the same level; Raw, a French film that got a lot more attention. Maybe if subtitles were added people could give Rabid a try, it’s well worth it.