‘Run Rabbit Run’ Review: Sarah Snook in a Maternal Horror Flick Whose Shivers Are Only Skin-Deep
On the tracks of The Babadook and Hereditary, run rabbit run adds a layer of generational analysis to the horrors of motherhood. Although mothers have always been the focus of horror stories, the focus of the narrative has recently shifted. Filmmakers are more interested in what the existence of a child says about the mother than in the parents’ primal fears. These stories often speak of a millennial desire not to reproduce, either because of the state of the world or, more specifically, a fear of “messing up” a child with neurosis and generational trauma. It would be ahistorical to say that horror has only just begun to combat trauma. The genre has always explored and commented on the nature of trauma. But as the concept of “trauma” has become more popular, references to it in genre cinema have become more literal.
In the Australian psychological thriller run rabbit run, Parenthood is a grim, isolated nightmare. The sky is down, the rooms of the house are dark and full of shadows, and Sarah (Sarah Snook) looks lonely, even with her young daughter Mia (Lily LaTorre). It’s Mia’s birthday, but the mood is somber. Mia is withdrawn and Sarah gets angry easily. The presence of her ex-husband Peter (David Herriman) and his new family only seems to make things worse when Sarah learns they are trying for another child. Worse, Mia shows signs of bullying, making Sarah feel helpless. With a busy work schedule and a non-existent personal life, Sarah spends all her free time caring for her daughter.
run rabbit run
The final result
Remains frustrating on the surface.
Venue: Sun Dance (Midnight)
Pour: Sarah Snook, Lily LaTorre, Damon Herriman, Greta Scacchi, Trevor Jamieson
Director: Daina Reid
Writer: Hannah Kent
1 hour 39 minutes
Mia has been acting strange since her birthday. In some moments her speech matures and she seems to be aware of her mother’s secrets. “You’re a terrible person,” she yells at Sarah during a heated argument, without clarifying what she means by that. As her mother’s guilty conscience, Mia alludes to a past event that Sarah does not want to remember. Her life slowly turns into a waking nightmare as her relationship with Mia begins to deteriorate. Mia stops calling Sarah her mother and treats her like a stranger. Things escalate when Sarah takes Mia to her childhood home in hopes it will shed some light on the situation. It soon becomes clear that the conflict between mother and daughter goes deeper than either of them realizes.
moody and atmospheric, run rabbit run easily builds up tension and anxiety. And yet it keeps hinting at a depth that never comes. Director Daina Reid walks us through all the similar movements in the most generic way – hallucinations, mysterious injuries, outbursts of violence. Even the symbolic white rabbit that appears throughout the film arouses neither interest nor fear.
But the most frustrating part run rabbit run is his minimalist approach to presenting Sarah and her frustrations. We never get into her head because the film is more interested in keeping something from us than telling a full, compelling story. Scenes involving family members, who should fill the narrative with a rich backstory, are repetitive and vague, offering no insight as to why Sarah is so isolated and volatile in the first place.
Sarah’s friends and family are unhelpful, in part because she doesn’t have the language to tell them what’s going on. But Sarah also has an edge that can’t be explained simply by fatigue. Snook plays her as if she were a child trapped in an adult’s body – defensive, easily overwhelmed and prone to tantrums. Moments between mother and daughter quickly become circular. And yet LaTorre shows promise as Mia in a precocious performance that needs a better movie. Author Hannah Kent’s screenplay is too minimalistic to offer the young actress unforgettable dialogues.
Ultimately, the film feels like a missed opportunity to explore how childhood never truly leaves us and how children can force a mother to question who she really is. There are moments when it feels like Sarah doesn’t feel fit to be a mother at all. If only run rabbit run wasn’t afraid to dig deeper.