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Film / Rabies

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RabiesHebrew  is 2010 thriller film written, directed, and edited by Nevot Papushado and Aharon Keshales and is the first Israeli feature length horror film.

The film starts with a young woman, Tali (Liat Harlev), trapped in an underground room in the middle of the woods. Her brother, Ofer (Henry David), tries to calm her down and tells her it was probably a trap meant for hunting rabbits, and dissuades her from the idea that their father is punishing them for what they’ve been doing, asserting they’ve done nothing wrong. He goes out to look for the person responsible, but is soon heard screaming in pain.

Cut to the local park ranger, Menashe (Menashe Noy), listening to the report on the radio with his girlfriend and their German shepherd, Buba. He thinks it’s probably nothing, just rich kids’ antics, and chats with his girlfriend before going on his route with Buba.

Cut to a group of four young adults: Shir (Yael Grobglas), Adi (Ania Bukstein), Pini (Ofer Shechter), and Mike (Ran Danker), wandering through the woods, looking for their way to a tennis match, when they hit Ofer with their car. When he regains consciousness, he desperately asks for their help, taking Pini and Mike with him into the woods while Shir and Adi stay behind and call the cops. Unfortunately, one of the cops, Yuval (Danny Geva), is a shameless sexual assaulter, and the other, Dani (Lior Ashkenazi), is not as eager as he should be about stopping him.

Needless to say, it all goes downhill from there.

The film was an immense global success, appearing in over 50 festivals worldwide. At the Tribeca Film Festival it was selected as one of the top five films of the festival by the Los Angeles Times, Variety, the Wall Street Journal, and others. It won Best Film at the Ofir Awards, Best Feature Film at the Mile High Horror Film Festival in Denver, Colorado, Best Film at the Buenos Aires Rojo Sangre film festival, and other prizes and special mentions in other festivals. It is also notable for (reportedly) being the first slasher-esque Israeli movie ever made.

This film contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Shimshon calls Yuval when he’s dying, chewing him out for banging up his car, and bringing up how when he was a kid he would call him ‘dad’ instead of by his first name only when he would ‘see the belt coming’. Finally, he tells him he’s done with him and wants him never to contact him again; Yuval says he wouldn’t have to worry about that.
  • Aerith and Bob: Mike is the only character in the film with a non-Israeli name.
  • Awful Wedded Life: The couple Pini meets at the end of the film, who won’t stop bickering about everything under the sun in front of him (despite having just met him for the first time), and give him a ride out of the woods.
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: Menashe’s girlfriend tells him she’s pregnant on his walkie-talkie while he’s being buried.
  • Book Ends: The film begins and ends with Pini in a car with the driver and shotgun passenger arguing about finding their way.
  • Bound and Gagged: The maniac who trapped and abducted Tali keeps her that way.
  • Brick Joke: Yuval filtering Shimshon’s calls after he banged up his car, until ‘the temperature goes down on Shimshon Beach’. When he’s dying, he finally accepts the call and is soon hit by an angry tirade by Shimshon. It stops being a joke when he talks about how he physically abused him as a child.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Strongly implied that Tali and Ofer are in an incestuous relationship, and that’s what got their father so riled up that Tali thinks he’s torturing her as punishment for. Confirmed near the end, when they kiss.
  • Cassandra Truth: Menashe’s girlfriend won’t believe him when he tells her he’s tending to an unconscious young woman he found in the desert.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The landmines. A sign showing they’re there appears in the background near the beginning. Later, Shir walks into a minefield without noticing the sign, but walks out unharmed, although allowing Yuval to catch her and Adi. Finally, Adi accidentally steps on one and dies horribly.
    • Yuval uses it to get Dani’s attention as he’s leaving yet another voice message for his wife. Near the end of the film, Dani uses it to get Shir’s attention as she’s walking catatonically on the road.
    • Both Yuval’s and Dani’s guns are used against their owners.
    • When Mike is pounding Pini into the ground, Pini desperately tries to reach for a rock near him, but fails. He does manage to grab it after he comes to again, and bashes Mike on the head, killing him.
  • *Cough* Snark *Cough*: Pini calls Adi a lesbian that way.
  • Covert Pervert: Pini is surprised and particularly amused when Adi tells Shir, who wants to go into the woods far enough to avoid being seen urinating, to stop going further in before she’s out of sight.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Pini and Adi have their moments.
  • Dirty Cop: Yuval, Yuval, Yuval. Dani, too, to some extent, as he keeps covering for his actions.
  • Don't Go in the Woods: Where there is a wandering homicidal maniac, a hidden cellar said maniac can imprison you in, bear traps, and landmines.
  • Downer Ending: Almost every main character dies, except Pini, who just murdered someone, and the maniac, both of whom are still on the loose.
  • Easily-Overheard Conversation: When Pini talks to Mike about leaving Ofer behind.
    Pini: Why should I care? I don’t even know his name.
    Ofer: Ofer.
    Pini: (A bit more quietly) You think he heard everything I said?
    Ofer: I still can.
  • Eye Awaken: The maniac at the end of the film.
  • Face Death with Dignity: When Tali wakes up from her brief nap with Ofer and finds out he’s dead and she’s surrounded by smoke and fire, she cries a little at first, but soon rests her head on his chest with a smile, waiting to die with him.
  • Fingore: Adi shoots off Yuval’s right little and ring fingers when he taunts her too much.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The landmine sign seen vaguely in the background at the beginning of the film. It causes a minor false alarm when Shir walks into a mine field without noticing, and comes back with a vengeance when Adi accidentally blows herself up near the ending. Similarly, Adi says that ‘there’s always a sign’ when the four are looking for their way out of the woods, and misses the one warning her about the landmines.
    • Shir being unable to urinate. When she can’t hold it any longer, she accidentally walks into a minefield, and the temporary scare makes her and Adi take their guard down temporarily, allowing Yuval to catch Adi from behind.
    • Dani talks to Yuval about his relationship with his father, Shimshon, remarking on how strange it is that he calls him by his first name saying it would be much, much better if he called him ‘dad’. When Yuval is talking to him as he’s dying and tries calling him dad again, Shimshon, who’s been chewing him out for banging up his car, scolds him for trying to be manipulative, same way he did when he was a kid trying to avoid the belt.
    • Dani tries to tell Yuval not to take his car keys, as his house keys are also attached. Near the end of the film, Dani has to crawl into his house through the window to call for help.
  • Freudian Excuse: Shimshon is Yuval’s abusive father. He abused him physically as a child and has always been very mean to him. When Shir and Adi overhear their last conversation, they are visibly horrified.
  • Funny Background Event: While Dani is leaving yet another voice message for his wife, Yuval can be seen talking to Shir and Adi in the background. Whatever he’s saying is bad enough for Adi to try and pepper spray him. It quickly turns decidedly non-funny.
  • Groin Attack: Adi kicks Yuval in the groin when breaking free from him.
  • Handsome Lech: Yuval. ‘Lech’ is one hell of an understatement here, though.
  • Hope Spot: Tali manages to run away from the maniac while he’s killing Buba... but only until she stumbles and falls.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The maniac remarking ‘Country full of arseholes’ in The Stinger.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed/A Sinister Clue: Inverted with Yuval. He starts laughing after Adi shoots off his right ring and little finger, saying he’s actually left-handed.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Adi accidentally knocks Yuval on a pole that used to hold the fence with the landmine warning sign, killing him.
  • Ironic Echo: Yuval teases Adi about her apparent attraction to Shir, and she shuts him up angrily. He is amused and remaks, ‘Oh, a sensitive point...’ He reacts the same when his sexual harassment suits are brought up, and she remarks back, ‘Oh, a sensitive point...’
  • Irrevocable Message: It turns out Shani, Dani’s wife, was at her parents’, which is why she didn’t hear any of Dani’s messages but the first. When he realises this, he tries to reach home as fast as possible to delete them. Then he runs into Shir...
  • Jerkass: Pini, who cracks jokes about Ofer when he thinks he just died and refuses to help him. Later on he also kills Mike with a rock to the head.
  • Jitter Cam: Very mild example.
  • Jumpscare: When Ofer springs back after being hit.
  • Karma Houdini: Pini gets away with killing Mike, and the maniac gets away with everything.
  • Kick the Dog: The maniac’s first victim is Buba. He kills her even though she’s obviously not aggressive.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Shir points out to Adi that Yuval most certainly deserved being killed.
  • Killing in Self-Defense: Adi is certain she’ll be sent to prison for killing Yuval, but Shir assures her that ‘self-defence is a thing’.
  • Kill It with Fire: How the maniac kills Tali and Ofer.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
    • Pini accidentally steps in a bear trap (fortunately without activating it) seconds after refusing to help Ofer further.
    • Yuval gets his comeuppance from Adi twice, each time after saying something particularly reprehensible.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Pini starts off this way, his observations and behaviour being a source of comedy.
  • Love Triangle: Aside from Adi, who is heavily implied to be into Shir, Pini is furious about finding out she’s been dating Mike, as he’s been into her ages.
  • Meaningful Name: Pini is a diminutive of Pinkhas that sounds an awful lot like pinHebrew , ‘penis’. Also, pini is Italian for ‘pine’, and the plot takes place mostly in a pine forest.
  • Mood Whiplash: Happens occasionally along the film, most notably at the end, when Pini gets a ride with a husband and wife who won’t stop bickering and their children.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Adi’s reaction to killing Yuval, and Pini’s to killing Mike.
  • Never My Fault: Yuval accepts no responsibility for sexually assaulting Shir and taunting Adi like crazy after Adi shoots off two of his fingers, calling Adi a ‘slut’ and a ‘little bitch’ instead.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Ofer mistakes Mensahe, who took Tali in after saving her from the maniac, for his sister’s abductor and crushes his jaw with a sledgehammer; when Menashe obviously fails to explain his mistake to him, Ofer kills him.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Nobody in the film actually has rabies.
  • Noodle Incident: A couple Pini meets at the end of the film won’t stop bickering in front of him about a wide array of issues, one of them being whatever happened last time they left the children with the wife’s mother.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: During a car trip, Shir needs to pee, she asks her friends to stop so she go Nature Tinkling. She starts to go, but then comes back to the car, and specifically asks the boys not to peek, even taking her friend Adi to keep an eye on them.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When Adi notices the sign warning against landmines where Adi is urinating.
    • When Menashe sees Ofer about to kill him.
    • When Tali points out to Ofer he killed the wrong person.
    • When Dani realises he’s been leaving tonnes of Irrevocable Messages to Shani.
  • One Dose Fits All: Averted. Menashe shoots two tranquiliser darts, accidentally hitting Tali with the first, and successfully hitting the maniac carrying her with the second. Tali is knocked out much more easily and for a longer period of time; the maniac manages to run off far and fast enough for Menashe to be unable to catch him.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Ofer kills Menashe, thinking he’s the maniac who abducted his sister, even though he’s actually the one who saved her. Justified, as stopping to check would have been too risky, given the condition he was in.
  • P.O.V. Cam: Used often, most horrifyingly when Ofer kills Menashe.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Pini talking to Mike and Adi about his strange fetishes when Shir is out trying to urinate.
  • Shout-Out: To Piccolino no Boukennote , of all things. In the Hebrew dub, Boro the Fox and Dora the Cat are named Shimshon and Yovav (an unusual name these days, similar to the far more common Yuval), and Dani’s and his wife Shani’s pets’ names are apparently Pinocchio and Bella (Hebrew names of Piccolino and Gina, respectively).
  • Skewed Priorities: Dani is more concerned with deleting the voice messages he left for his wife than with getting medical treatment for the multiple bullet holes Shir gave him.
  • Sole Survivor: Pini is the last character alive out of the group of four, and, aside from the maniac, of the characters who was involved in the whole ordeal that took place in the forest.
  • The Stinger: During the credits, the maniac comes out of the woods and tries to no avail to catch a ride, and says, ‘A country full of arseholes.’
  • Suddenly Speaking: The maniac utters only one line, in The Stinger.
  • Tap on the Head: How Pini kills Mike, probably without intending to.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Adi claims in jest that for all his talk about strange fetishes, Pini is actually a virgin. Pini responds with a common Israeli jocular response to claims of virginity: ‘Yeah, in the ear, maybe!’ Adi and Mike are baffled.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Shir gets this after Adi gets blown up by a landmine, and it doesn’t go away until she gets run over and dies.
  • Volleying Insults: Pini and Adi during their Seinfeldian Conversation.