Sundance 2023 Review: Run Rabbit Run

by Andrew Parker

Australian horror thriller Run Rabbit Run starts out as a pleasingly familiar creepy kid yarn, but it runs out of gas very quickly en route to becoming ploddingly tedious. A fair bit of craft has gone into the performances, visuals, and unusually windy sound design of Run Rabbit Run, but the molasses slow script and editing could’ve used a lot more work.

Sarah (Sarah Snook), a fertility doctor and single mother, is preparing for her daughter Mia’s seventh birthday. Things are already difficult for Sarah, whose father just died, while her estranged mother has been hospitalized for worsening dementia, but Mia (Lily LaTorre) has compounded mom’s stresses by acting strange. After the arrival of an unwanted rabbit on their doorstep, Mia starts demanding to see the grandmother she never met, and is seemingly possessed. Mia’s increasingly unhinged behaviour speaks to a dark family secret long suppressed by Sarah that refuses to go away.

Initially, Run Rabbit Run positions itself as a Babadook inspired metaphor for motherhood and guilt, and for the first thirty minutes or so, director Daina Reed and writer Hannah Kent are successful at setting a nice stage. But instead of coming up with anything original or even something familiar that moves at a good pace, this devolves into a series of repetitive scenes that keep spinning around a painfully obvious reveal that Kent and Reed take far too long to unleash. It’s the type of film that thinks it has done a good job at keeping things under wraps, when in reality the story’s flat out refusal to get on with things the viewer knows to be true and not an actual reveal becomes grating, annoying, audience insulting and good will destroying.

Snook is as great as always, and LaTorre is quite convincing as devilish young Mia. A decent portion of Run Rabbit Run takes place in daylight, which is always nice to see and is well filmed here. There are a few unnerving moments of terror that keep things from being an outright bore (although they are often swiftly undone by TV veteran Reed’s wild over-reliance on ending scenes with fades or cuts to black like there should be commercial breaks). But the only thing truly terrifying about Run Rabbit Run is its astounding level of boredom.

Run Rabbit Run screened as part of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

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