A psychotic serial killer on the loose in the woods crosses paths with a group of unsuspecting teenagers, and soon people are dying one by one. It's a popular horror premise, but mobilized in a refreshingly novel iteration by first-time filmmakers Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. Among a brother and sister with a dark secret, a kindly forest ranger and his old dog, and four tennis players waylaid by a pair of unhinged local cops, misunderstandings and fear pull Rabies' protagonists inexorably deeper into the infectious, indiscriminate violence foreshadowed in the film's title.
Subverting genre conventions with a smart script and plenty of unexpected scares, Rabies' careful escalation draws viewers and protagonists alike convincingly into the film's snowballing cycles of violence and fear, grounding its grisly content and high-concept premise in an uncommonly believable world rarely seen within the horror formula. Rabies is a surprising debut starring some of Israel's biggest young actors, and worthy of its mantle as Israel's first-ever horror film.
Director's Statement Collapse
We spent most of our childhood and teenage years watching horror films, a habit that we haven't been able to shake until today. We dedicated so much time to indulging in cinematic nightmares that one day we just asked ourselves: "Why not make one?" Our main influences are those we acknowledge as being the masters: Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Lucio Fulci, George Romero, Brian De Palma, Joe Dante, Wes Craven, John Carpenter and Tobe Hooper. Later inspiration came from Takashi Miike, Rob Zombie and Quentin Tarantino.
We felt a lot of responsibility rested on our shoulders when making this film.
Israel's film industry doesn't rely on genre films. The two most typical types of film in Israel are military films (drama based as a pose to action based war films) and family dramas. There's little room for comedy and no room at all for horror. So when we got the chance to offer something totally new to the local audience, we felt a huge responsibility to get it right and get the genre off to a good start. There is always a fear of failure, of becoming another cautionary tale in the industry.
"Kalevet" in Hebrew means "rabies," a disease that attacks the nervous system. In Rabies a group of innocent characters are put into an intense environment and tested to see whether or not they will become "infected" and, in doing so, lose their humanity. The name of the film is metaphorical. Rabies is a satirical horror film about the intense and harsh difficulties of living in Israel.
The film isn't intended to educate audiences or preach a message. We wanted to create an entertaining film and if Rabies can make people laugh and feel terrified at the same time, we'll be as happy as Freddy Krueger in a dream lab.
Cast & Credits Collapse
Primary Cast Lior Ashkenazi, Ania Bukstein, Danny Geva, Yael Grobglas, Ran Danker, Ofer Shecter
Producer Chilik Michaeli, Avraham Pirchi, Tami Leon, Julia Schifter
Editor Navot Papushado, Aharon Keshales
Director of Photography Guy Raz
Composer Frank Ilfman
Sound Design Ronen Nagel, Tomer Eliav