Run Rabbit Run {Sydney Film Festival} – Film Review

Directed by Daina Reid, Run Rabbit Run brings us an Australian psychological horror film that boasts powerhouse performances by its lead actresses but doesn’t quite hit all the marks it has on offer.

It’s little Mia’s 7th Birthday and single-parent Sarah (Sarah Snook) appears to be the breadwinner parent for Mia (Lily LaTorre), helping to organise her birthday party and ensure that her little girl’s day is very special. After school pickup, Mia spots a wild rabbit at the front door of their house, much to Mia’s delight, but obvious to Sarah’s somewhat discomfort.

It’s here that things start to take a bizarre turn for the weird where Mia creates a very scary-looking cut-out mask of a rabbit and refuses to take it off much to Sarah’s frustration, a tirade of aggressive behaviour hurled at Sarah, and even frequently requesting wanting to see Joan, Sarah’s estranged mother, both of whom have had no real relationship with whatsoever. It gets even weirder still when Mia claims she is not Mia but rather someone named Alice, a name Sarah is all-too familiar with from her past. From here on, things take a dark turn and horror ensues.

While I enjoyed and appreciated what Run Rabbit Run was attempting to showcase, I couldn’t help but feel left wanting more and that the film only scratched the surface of its very bizarre premise. Run Rabbit Run’s themes of motherhood, the emotional turmoil, and the effects of mental illness down the family tree are prevalent. But I felt it didn’t really get as far as it wanted to for its storytelling.

The themes and obvious nod to Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland regarding the downward spiral Sarah is sent down on this horrific journey is apparent, yet I couldn’t help but feel that the film was tad cliché when it came to the horror tropes such as a creepy little girl talking, a figure appearing in the darkness only to disappear etc. The film certainly had its moments of spooks and times where I jumped here and there, but it was unfortunately nothing I hadn’t seen before in other films. Writer Hannah Kent had potential to strike gold here, but ultimately, Run Rabbit Run fell short of the overall storytelling in my eyes.

Despite my gripes, Run Rabbit Run is still a very pleasing film to look at with Bonnie Elliot’s lovely cinematography of a more rural Australian outback setting, including a gorgeous if-not-creepy old rural-type house, and the score by Mark Bradshaw and Marcus Whale respectively, is hauntingly good. Even when those above-mentioned cliché-like moments are about to happen, the slight hum of noise that crescendos into something uncomfortable, loud, and very eerie is done incredibly well.

Thankfully, a lot of what does work and overall carries this film are the performances of both Sarah Snook and Lily LaTorre as Sarah and Mia, respectively. Snook and LaTorre are both phenomenal as the on-screen mother-daughter duo. I could feel how traumatised and terrified Snook portrayed, trying to grasp and understand what is happening around her, while LaTorre going full ‘horror movie creepy child’ complete with that terrifying rabbit mask was executed well. I certainly felt disturbed and uncomfortable.

I admire what Run Rabbit Run was trying to convey here across its themes, but it just did not totally win me over and rather left me wishing we got more, despite some fantastic performances by our two female leads. It’s an intriguing story with a great premise but I felt it missed the mark. A real shame, as any time I hear word of an Australian psychological horror or thriller film is on the horizon, I jump at the chance to watch it as soon as I can. Sadly, by the time I grabbed at the opportunity, this one just didn’t hit all the right notes for me.

Run Rabbit Run is playing as part of the Sydney Film Festival which is on until June 18th 2023.
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