Tonight, round two at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival was a screening of Israel’s first slasher horror film, strangely titled “Rabies“, or “Kalevet” in hebrew.
It’s directed Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado, and features actors Lior Ashkenazi, Danny Geva, Ania Bukstein, Menashe Noy, Ran Danker, Henry David, Ofer Shechter, Liat Harlev and Yael Grobglas.
A psychotic serial killer on the loose in the woods crosses paths with a group of unsuspecting teenagers, and soon people are dying one by one. It’s a popular horror premise, but mobilized in a refreshingly novel iteration by first-time filmmakers Aharon Keshales and Navot Papushado. Among a brother and sister with a dark secret, a kindly forest ranger and his old dog, and four tennis players waylaid by a pair of unhinged local cops, misunderstandings and fear pull Rabies’ protagonists inexorably deeper into the infectious, indiscriminate violence foreshadowed in the film’s title.
Subverting genre conventions with a smart script and plenty of unexpected scares, Rabies’ careful escalation draws viewers and protagonists alike convincingly into the film’s snowballing cycles of violence and fear, grounding its grisly content and high-concept premise in an uncommonly believable world rarely seen within the horror formula. Rabies is a surprising debut starring some of Israel’s biggest young actors, and worthy of its mantle as Israel’s first-ever horror film.