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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Rabid Dogs [aka Enrages] (2015) (Blu-ray)
Rabid Dogs [aka Enrages] (2015) (Blu-ray)
Shout Factory // Unrated // June 14, 2016 // Region A
List Price: $29.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by William Harrison | posted August 31, 2016 | E-mail the Author
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THE FILM:

This stylish remake of an Italian thriller that was unreleased for years due to its filmmakers' financial troubles shares much of its DNA with that Mario Bava film. In an era of remakes and sequels, it is tempting to dismiss Rabid Dogs as unoriginal and unnecessary, but this modern French retelling, from director Eric Hannezo, is brutally tense and stylish, and at least earns a place at the table. As in the original, a bank robbery goes wrong and the criminals take a woman hostage before hopping into a car with a man and his sick daughter. They proceed on an unpleasant road trip through the French countryside, as the men grow increasingly hostile and the authorities close in.

The opening shots of Rabid Dogs are slick and grab your attention. Group leader and getaway driver Sabri (Guillaume Gouix) idles in a Dodge Charger outside the bank in cinematographer Kamal Derkaoui's tightly lensed frame. His cover is almost blown when two police officers ask him to move out of a no-parking zone. Things go south when the rest of the group (Francois Arnaud, Franck Gastambide and Laurent Lucas, playing "the boss") exits. Shots are fired, officers are wounded, and the gang takes a young woman (Virginie Ledoyen) hostage before flagging down a man (Lambert Wilson) driving his sick daughter (Megane Lemee) to the hospital. Sabri forces the man to allow them inside the car, leave Paris and evade authorities or his daughter will be killed.

The film is very much a cat-and-mouse game between the protagonist father and Sabri. The other goons are thinly drawn, and mostly stick around to torment their adult female passenger. Sabri immediately seems too cool, too levelheaded for the group, and the father asks him why he is continuing down a violent path. Things get dicey when Sabri sees their pictures on the news, and the group returns to the road, cutting through small towns and rural gatherings to find a clear escape. None of the action is particularly unique, but the film has a brutal sensibility in its simple, quick bursts of violence. The film is bookended with some exceptionally stylish and impressive scenes, but things lag during the midsection, when Rabid Dogs turns into an extended, monotonous stick-up.

The film also fails to give its characters anything more than surface-level exploration, perhaps intentionally. This gives Rabid Dogs a cold, detached feel, which, again, may be intentional. Save one scene in a rest-stop bathroom, when the father and Sabri talk shop, any satisfying glimpse at character motivations is sorely absent. The late game is bloody, and Rabid Dogs does build enough queasy tension that it is difficult to look away. Is that entertainment? You could ask the same of another French export, Martyrs. The film never lives up to its early promise, but the visual talent behind the camera is obvious.

THE BLU-RAY:

PICTURE:

The 2.35:1/1080p/AVC-encoded image is nicely detailed and consistently sharp, with strong fine-object clarity and ample texture. Colors are purposely oversaturated in spots, but black levels and shadow detail are good. This is a clean, vibrant HD image without major flaw.

SOUND:

The French 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track (there are English subtitles) is strong, too; with crisp dialogue reproduction and some excellent surround action. Ambient noise wafts through the rear speakers, and the track handles the multi-dimensional car interior well. Action effects are brutal and accompanied by LFE bass.

PACKAGING AND EXTRAS:

This two-disc "combo pack" includes the Blu-ray and a DVD copy. The discs are packed in a standard case, and the artwork is two-sided. Extras are surprisingly plentiful: You get a 90-minute Making Of (HD), with extended interviews and on-set footage. You also get 42 more minutes of Interviews (HD), a 14-minute Sound Effect and Production Design (HD) featurette, and a two-minute Trailer (HD).

FINAL THOUGHTS:

This remake of Mario Bava's long-shelved Italian thriller is not exactly necessary, and it never lives up to its early, stylish promise. However, the movie is brutally tense in spots and offers unique visuals. The Blu-ray is technically sound and offers lengthy bonus features. Recommended for fans; everyone else can Rent It.

William lives in Burlington, North Carolina, and looks forward to a Friday-afternoon matinee.

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