FANTASTIC FEST 2011
By Don Simpson | October 3, 2011
Directors: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Writers: Aharon Keshales, Navot Papushado
Starring: Liat Harlev, Henry David, Yael Grobglas, Ania Bukstein, Ofer Shechter, Ran Danker, Danny Geva, Lior Ashkenazi, Menashe Noy
There is no specific case of rabies to be found within Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado’s Rabies; instead, the title refers to how violence can spread senselessly and relentlessly like a virus. The story takes place in a densely forested park, starting with Tali (Liat Harlev) as she is trapped in a below ground cage. Her brother, Ofer (Henry David), hopelessly tries to rescue her; eventually he runs to the nearest road for help.
Ofer has a close encounter with a SUV carrying four lost tennis players — Shir (Yael Grobglas), Adi (Ania Bukstein), Pini (Ofer Shechter) and Mike (Ran Danker). Ofer leads Pini and Mike to his sister’s location while Shir and Adi wait for two police officers, Yuval (Danny Geva) and Danny (Lior Ashkenazi), to arrive. All the while, a park attendant (Menashe Noy) and his dog stumble into the scenario.
Rabies develops into a devastatingly brutal film as Keshales and Papushado reveal a biting commentary on the dire straits of modern Israeli society. Lack of trust, jealousy, hunger for power, machismo, rudeness, and a general sense of meanness, all lead these characters to very bad places. (It is quite fitting that the final words of dialogue are: “A country full of shits.”) The violence comes seemingly out of nowhere and spreads rabidly, lending the film a shockingly absurd intensity that is totally unmatched. Time and time again you will want to shout “STOP!” at the screen with every ounce of energy that you can muster. Unfortunately, the characters will never listen. Horror film characters never listen, do they?