Film Review – Run Rabbit Run

Run Rabbit Run

Run Rabbit Run

Run Rabbit Run (2023) touches on many of the fears that come with being a parent. There’s the constant worry over whether you are raising your child well enough, that they are cared for and fed, that they are being raised in a safe environment, and that your problems are not being imprinted onto them. One big concern is seeing your child grow up without knowing who they really are. I have recently become a father for the second time, and these are just a few of the countless things spinning around in my head. While the film does a good job of establishing these themes, the overall result is underdeveloped. It uses the premise of parenthood, guilt, and trauma, and wraps it within a horror structure that never quite reaches its potential. There are the makings of a good movie here, but the execution doesn’t allow it to surface.

Keen observers will immediately notice the similarities to The Babadook (2014) which was also the story of a family put under tremendous stress. But where that film succeeded in being terrifying in its examination of parents and children, Run Rabbit Run feels tame. Written by Hannah Kent and directed by Daina Reid, the narrative centers around Sarah (Sarah Snook), a fertility doctor and single parent to daughter Mia (Lily LaTorre). Sarah is in the midst of a personal struggle – reeling from the recent death of her father and continued estrangement from her mother. Her ex-husband Pete (Damon Herriman) is still around to help co-parent Mia, but the presence of Pete’s current partner adds an unspoken tension for Sarah. Things only get worse when Mia starts exhibiting strange behavior: wearing a rabbit mask and refusing to take it off, talking about missing people she has never met, and demanding that she now be called by the name “Alice.”


The central point of tension involves Sarah trying to get through to Mia. What is the cause of these odd happenings? Is Mia being bullied in school? Has someone told her something that may have induced anger or resentment? As Sarah’s attempts to reach her daughter fail, her frustration grows. It’s this element that stands out from the rest of the narrative. Needless to say, it is not easy being a parent, and that is especially true for Sarah. Her frustrations and impatience boil over, causing her to lash out not only at Mia but at other people in her line of sight.  She clearly has demons gnawing at her mental health. Sarah Snook delivers a very good performance, balancing the good and bad sides of the character with believability. She inhabits Sarah not as a straight up monster, even though she may exhibit monstrous tendencies.  

Daina Reid’s direction creates an Australian environment that feels increasingly claustrophobic. The open expanse of the outback does not feel freeing but enclosed – like a desert prison preventing escape. Sarah and Mia’s home is clean and modern, but every time Bonnie Elliott’s camera takes a wide angle shot of it, it is surrounded by bad weather. Torrential rain and wind pummel the house constantly, forcing Sarah and Mia to stay indoors. A lone rabbit shows up at their doorstep, acting as a symbol of impending doom. These smaller details do a better job of creating suspense and anxiety compared to the more overt instances. Mia’s spooky drawings are taken right out of the horror movie handbook, as well as the many fake outs and fantasy sequences that populate the second half. 

The big takeaway from Run Rabbit Run is that it’s simply not that scary or interesting. Whether it’s due to budget constraints or otherwise, once the narrative settles into its second act, it takes on a “wash, rinse, and repeat” structure. The setup is basically the same throughout the entire duration: Sarah and Mia have an argument, Sarah tries to force her will upon the young girl, something bad happens, Sarah feels regret about it, etc. This cycle continues over and over again with little variation. The momentum never builds, and thus once all the secrets are revealed, it’s a letdown. Don’t get me wrong, the story goes in very dark and shocking areas. From a distance, we can see what the production was trying to get at, but the movie was never compelling enough to draw out our empathy. We’re given a reason for why events play out as they do, but we’re never given a reason to care.


That’s not to say there aren’t memorable moments. When Sarah tries to get rid of their adopted rabbit and gets bit, the mark on her hand festers – a clear symbol of the lingering dread she feels. During the scene in which Mia wakes up with blood coming out of her head, Sarah panics and grabs a pair of scissors hoping to cut Mia’s hair to better see and treat the injury. Of course, Sarah doesn’t see the larger implication – that trying to use scissors on her daughter in a state of extreme distress can only lead to a worse outcome. The sequences where Sarah visits her mother Joan (Greta Scacchi) – who is suffering from dementia – exemplifies how pain and mistreatment can trickle down through the generations. These examples work in a vacuum, yet when tied together they do not flow cohesively. The film is better in pieces as opposed to a complete whole.

For all the joys that come with being a parent, it can also be a draining, infuriating, and isolating experience. Run Rabbit Run covers a lot of these topics, but its repetitiveness and lack of narrative momentum keeps things stuck in neutral.




Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

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