You can tell what Run Rabbit Run desperately wants to be. It has all of the makings of being the next elevated horror gem, like The Babadook or Hereditary, but it never finds that kind of focus. The hints are there, but too sporadic. Playing at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival (and recently acquired by Netflix), it’s a movie that has promise, but winds up being a bit of a disappointment.
Run Rabbit Run falls short of the sort of mark its targeting, but not for lack of trying. At least in terms of its central performance, there’s a lot to like here. It’s just stuck within a narrative that’s too scattershot for its own good, when it would have benefitted so much from a tighter and more focused approach.
Fertility doctor Sarah (Sarah Snook) believes in life and death, but not ghosts. At least, when we meet her, that’s her perspective. Initially, after noticing some strange new behavior from her young daughter Mia (Lily LaTorre), she has rational explanations. She blames some of it on her ex husband Pete (Damon Herriman), as well as some of her own issues. The answer, however, is hardly that simple, and far more terrifying.
The more Sarah sees, the more confused she gets. There’s something wrong with Mia, and others don’t see it in the same way, blaming her. So, Sarah must eventually challenge her own values and confront what for all the money seems like a ghost from her troubled past. If she can do that, perhaps there will be hope for her daughter?
Sarah Snook does all she can to raise the film up. She’s very good here, albeit with a character that’s begging for more meat on her bones. Still, as a showcase for Snook, that’s what works best here. As for Lily LaTorre, she’s somewhat one note, but the note is fairly unsettling. The rest of the cast, aside from the aforementioned Damon Herriman, is highlighted by Greta Scacchi. Snook is the MVP, though, even if it’s value within a flawed project.
Director Daina Reid and writer Hannah Kent want to scare you, but they’re also hoping to make you feel something. It’s an admirable approach, though one they can’t pull off. Reid’s direction ends up feeling a bit too inert, while Kent’s script is a bit all over the place. The jumps mostly work, but the efforts to make the movie something more do fall fairly short.
Run Rabbit Run is one of Sundance’s lesser titles this year, but it’s also not a particularly bad flick. It’s just a bit too thin and can’t reach the heights it’s gunning for. Netflix saw something in this one and picked it up, so you’ll soon get to make up your own mind. For my money, there’s just not enough here to recommend.