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‘Run Rabbit Run’ review: Sarah Snook leads an eerie, but familiar horror film about the throes of regret

Maybe you try to make amends with your past before it comes find you.

Courtesy of Sundance

Run Rabbit Run begins with a vision of a woman lying motionless on the side of a barren lake. It’s an ensemble of weird dreams that Sarah (Sarah Snook) tries to make sense of. Before she can do that, many things in her life need her attention. For starters, her father has passed away, and there seems to be a long estrangement from her mother, Joan (Greta Scacchi), that doesn’t make matters better. On the day of her daughter Mia’s (Lily LaTorre) birthday, she burns the card Joan sends. As Joan has been diagnosed with dementia, Sarah ignores any and all calls from her caregivers at an assisted living facility. On top of that, Sarah is navigating a divorce where her husband, Pete (Damon Herriman), and new partner Denise (Naomi Rukavina), are thinking about having a baby (even though Sarah and Pete talked about putting this on hold).

But there’s something under the surface with director Daina Reid’s film. Something that brings together the themes of deep familiar trauma and parent-child relationships we’ve seen in Hereditary and The Babadook. Mia starts to say she misses Joan, but has never met her before – bookending it with the phrase, “I miss people I never met all the time.” One day a mysterious white rabbit shows up and immediately bonds with Mia. Then, Mia believes an entirely different person – a girl named Alice. A name that strikes fear within Sarah. What in the hell is going on here? Alice is Sarah’s sister who has been missing since she was 7. – so, how could Mia know this?

Well, anything is possible in the genre of horror. Unfinished business has been synonymous with ghosts and specters, especially regarding children being a conduit for messages. It’s something Reid and writer Hannah Kent utilizes with motifs that straddle the line between being interesting and needing more context. As Run Rabbit Run moves on, Mia becomes more undone. She wears a bunny mask made from cardboard paper, incessantly calls to be with Joan, and has this violent outbursts calling her mother a terrible person. Even given how volatile kids can be, that’s a little much.

It’s coupled with Sarah’s inability to make amends with her past. She has a garage full of her dad’s boxes that she tries to ignore. A bite from the bunny on Sarah’s hand won’t seem to heal either. (a physical manifestation of the movie’s thematic goal). Within that journey, Snook and LaTorre carry this premise to the finish line. LaTorre fully buys into the role of a child who is at the service of something else. She adds more to the mystery – even if it loses steam in its latter half. Snook as Sarah is equal parts haunted and cold. When these things happen, Sarah has very few people (if any) to run to.

As engaging Run Rabbit Run can be drawing the audience in, there comes the point where it opts to show a litany of horror tropes that takes away from its best sum. Mia draws pictures in schools that alarm her teachers. There seems to be a vision of a ghost that appears behind Sarah at points. All roads lead back to Sarah’s childhood home, which has been preserved to act as a memory haunted house. In the film’s second half, Sarah’s mind starts to break under her enormous weight. Some of that later journey equates to making the audience want to see things through to the end. But it’s primarily familiar setups that one would expect from these types of horror films.

With the ideas it brings, you’ll be excited to see what lies before you once you get through the maze. But there’s so much Run Rabbit Run wants to show you about this story, where the ultimate conclusion might seem like a letdown.