Run Rabbit Run review: Succession’s Sarah Snook is pestered by a creepy kid in familiar Netflix chiller

Directed by Dana Reid (’The Handmaid’s Tale’), this Australian horror film ticks off tropes as if it were conducting some sort of paranormal safety check

Clarisse Loughrey
Thursday 29 June 2023 15:09 BST
Run Rabbit Run trailer

Grief is hard enough without a wide-eyed, shrill-voiced little scamp in your kitchen scribbling black voids and red-eyed stick figures or whispering portentous nonsense in your ear. So spare a thought for Sarah Snook’s exasperated, recently bereaved matriarch in Netflix’s overly familiar Australian chiller. The woman can barely down her morning coffee without her deathly pale, cherub-faced daughter tugging on her trouser leg and nonsensically insisting that “I miss people I’ve never met all the time”.

Directed by Daina Reid, who was behind several episodes of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Run Rabbit Run ticks off tropes as if it were conducting some sort of paranormal safety check. Snook, magnetic in HBO’s Succession, stars as Sarah, whose father has passed. Her estranged mother (Greta Scacchi), a resident at a care facility, is in the early stages of dementia. Sarah has made emotional repression a fine art. She won’t share a single detail of her childhood with her daughter Mia (Lily LaTorre). Only a few, scant details have been shared with her ex-husband Peter (Damon Herriman).

Mia starts insisting that she’s actually someone called Alice, while Sarah does little but look increasingly perturbed. Occasionally, she heads off to her job as a fertility doctor, where she’s taunted daily by the miracle of a new, unblemished life. Reid certainly shoots her film as if it contains heavyweight psychological material, with Sarah and Mia trapped in a minimalist prison of glass and concrete, chilled to the extent that Australia starts looking like Norway.

When Sarah jokingly tells Mia that the voice on the other end of the phone is “a ghost”, a conveniently timed breeze ruffles a curtain in the background. But there’s absolutely no one, dead or alive, standing behind it. We’re often shown reflections in mirrors and never do those reflections tease something that shouldn’t be there. Editor Nick Meyers threads brief, inconclusive scenes together like they’re fragments of a revelation, as the screen fades in and out of darkness. Run Rabbit Run is certainly fluent in the visual language of eerie, effective horror. Its metaphors, though, are all mumbled.

Horror is one of the few safe places filmmakers can explore the less heroic permutations of loss (see: Ari Aster’s Hereditary, a film all about the shame of not experiencing grief after the death of a parent). But Hannah Kent’s screenplay instead circles nervously around Sarah’s secretive past and does its best to ignore the stench of vengeance in the air until it’s far too late to feel its full, acrid force. Snook, back in her native Australian accent, occasionally elevates the material. The dissonance between what she says and what her eyes betray suggested duplicitousness in Succession; here it reads as pure tragedy. When she starts tearing up the place, in a way that’s reminiscent of Roman Polanski’s Repulsion, she never lets those hysterics extend beyond believability. But there are only so many ways a woman can react to a child’s precocious head tilt, moments before they utter something wise and morbid beyond their years. Run Rabbit Run has Snook running in circles.

Dir: Daina Reid. Starring: Sarah Snook, Lily LaTorre, Damon Herriman, Greta Scacchi. 15, 100 minutes.

‘Run Rabbit Run’ is streaming on Netflix

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