Fantastic Fest 2017 Review: Rabbit gives identical twins their version of Get Out in this intense thriller

Do twins have telepathy? What if someone wanted to test that out by kidnapping twins? What if the soundtrack to that film was mind-blowingly good?

A girl is running through the Australian woods. She is being chased by hooded figures while a creepy synth soundtrack is destroying your eardrums with excitement and fear. Then another girl wakes up. She looks exactly the same as the girl in the woods. She is her identical twin, and has been having dreams about her sister who has been missing for a year.

Writer/director Luke Shanahan makes his feature debut in a throwback to 70s psychological horror films that will keep you guessing as to what the hell is going on. Shanahan certainly makes an impression and manages to create and maintain an eerie atmosphere throughout the entire film. From the incredible opening scene, the tone is set and you get the feeling that something really wrong is going on, and even when you think you know what it is, Rabbit still manages to keep you on your toes trying to guess its ulterior motives.

Right in the middle of this we find Maude Ashton, played brilliantly by Adelaide Clemens. She conveys the pain you go through when you know something happened to someone you love. Clemens shows raw emotion every time her character gets strange visions she assumes are messages from her missing twin. At the same time, Clemens also plays Maude’s twin Cleo, where she gets a chance to show her acting skills and give Cleo a unique personality that still resembles her sister’s.

Adelaide Clemens will make you think she truly has an identical twin, and break your heart after.

The first half of the movie plays like a roadtrip story, with Maude retracing her sister’s steps from the weird visions she gets. This becomes boring and repetitive pretty quickly, as the film takes a break from the horror introduced in the opening scene.

Thankfully the film finally kicks in when Maude starts getting closer to the truth about her sister’s fate. It is here that Shanahan reveals his influences and the weirdness increases by a tentful. There are creepy people everywhere in the big house that becomes the setting for the latter half of the film. The house is shot beautifully by Director of Photography Anna Howard. She makes the house come to life, and every sight of a tree sends shivers down your spine as terror lurks behind.

The real highlight of Rabbit is it’s magnetic and hypnotizing soundtrack. Composer Michael Darren hits all the right notes, with a synth-style organ score that electrifies your senses and pleads its case for a spot in all “Best Of” lists. If that wasn’t enough, the film cuts the soundtrack right in the middle of each track as a character walks into a room, or a person – which gives you a little jump scare.

Rabbit is an impressive entry into Australia’s thriller slate, and a very good feature debut for Luke Shanahan. Despite a rocky first half, the film compensates with an intense second half, great performances and a killing soundtrack that deserves to be bought, listened to and treasured for years to come.

Grade: Matinée

How I grade films

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