I have a lot of love for Rabid Love, and I think you will too. The film manages to do what a lot of horror films right now are attempting to do and that is create a movie that not only pays homage to the horror films of the 80s, but also truly looks and feels like it was made during the same decade. No small feat, but one that Rabid Love gleefully does and largely succeeds at.
Rabid Love follows a quintet of friends as they head out for a summer vacation at a family’s cabin. Unbeknownst to them, however, a dangerous killer is on the loose whose methods of attack are so grisly that it has the locals wondering if it might indeed be the work of a bear rather than a madman. Yes, yes, I know. We have definitely heard this one before. In fact, we have heard it so many damn times that it almost deters us from giving the film a chance altogether. Lucky for us, RL has a major trick up its sleeve from the very beginning that will hold on to many discerning viewers: character development.
Remember the good ole’ days of horror when we genuinely cared about the characters that were savagely brutalized in front of us. The audience would shield its eyes not solely from the horror, but from the betrayal of getting to know a character only to have them ripped quickly away from us. We cheer, we applaud the hero, but we also used to mourn those that had fallen in the wake of the nightmares before us. Sometimes it seems like those days are so far behind us that all we can look forward to is seeing the character that annoys us the most meeting their end in a quick fashion in the most unseemly of disposals.
Rabid Love actually spends time with its characters and we genuinely feel as though they could easily be one of our own friends or family. This, budding young screenwriters, is a good thing. We are introduced to a girl hopeful for her future, yet sadly reluctant to start her journey because of the many changes it will bring, played effortlessly by Hayley Derryberry. Her boyfriend, ignorant of her plans, is actually a good guy with his future firmly planted in the small town his girlfriend so longs to leave. We meet an abrasive friend with no filter (Josh Hammond) that ultimately is just trying to protect himself against the people prone to hurt him and his new girlfriend that will take his abuses rather than be alone or admit that she deserves better. Throw in a younger sister that is just along for the ride and
We have ourselves a pretty well rounded cast of characters. Sadly the pacing, which takes its time to introduce us to and endear us to these characters, will be the element that will have some fans tuning out early on, which is a horrible thing, because when the gore and action starts to ratchet up, it holds on strong till the last frames.
We get plenty of the red stuff towards the end and an interesting take on the psychopathic killer angle that will leave the audience pretty satisfied as well. Gore aside, it really is the ability of the film to embed itself in the 80s that had me so impressed early on, largely in part to a great synth mix score by Nicholas Nielsen and soundtrack that would make Foreigner blush. Even the acting from a few of the peripheral characters, which might fall under criticism due to moments of stiffness, seems almost intentional giving the film a purposeful camp and comedy that only works to add to its charm.
I have a feeling that when Rabid Love finally finds its audience, it will be a quick favorite amongst genre fans. Till then, give it a watch and show it a little love of its own. RECOMMENDED.