The filmmaking twins Jen and Sylvia Soska made one of the most vibrant and ferocious horror movies of recent years with 2012’s “American Mary,” a gory exploration into extreme body-modification. The Soskas’ projects since have been more generic; but they’re back on their game with “Rabid,” an uneven but often energizing remake of David Cronenberg’s 1977 cult classic.
Like the original, the new “Rabid” is about a woman named Rose (played here by Laura Vandervoort) who has experimental plastic surgery after a disfiguring accident, waking up with a grotesquely mutated body and a thirst for blood. Her bite soon infects others, turning them into frothing, cannibalistic maniacs.
The Soskas (who also cowrote the movie with John Serge) build on Cronenberg’s original premise. Their “Rabid” doubles as a savage fashion industry satire, as the reborn Rose finds she’s finally cutthroat enough — literally — to impress the catty models and cruel designers she works with.
Frankly, the fashion material draws too much on threadbare clichés. The directors get more juice from their Cronenbergian body-horror. The Soskas bring back a lot of what made “American Mary” memorable, with all their elaborate visions of gaping wounds and warped flesh.
“Rabid” is at its best when it’s assaulting viewers with images of a mutilated Rose consuming a chunky blood-red concoction from an oversize syringe; or when it’s panning across an emergency room filled with snarling subhumans. These scenes also make strong points about self-image and self-control, but in ways that pierce straight into the subconscious.
Running time: 1 hour, 48 minutes
Playing: Arena Cinelounge, Hollywood; also on VOD