Rabid Dogs is a French Canadian remake of a 1970s Italian crime thriller. It’s a lean 90ish minute affair – a bank robbery goes slightly wrong and the participants are forced to take hostages and make a run for it. Unfortunately the car they take belongs to a man who has a drugged child in the backseat who he is taking to hospital for much needed kidney transplant surgery, and the media and police are in hot pursuit.
There’s not a lot more to the story than those bare bones – a part road movie, part buddy criminals betraying each other, part thrilling entertainment, part race against time. Character-wise we never really know enough about any of them to give much thought to their backstories. The criminals are all unpleasant – they are all killers, repentant or otherwise. One in particular appears most likely to commit some form of sexual assault. There’s no explanation for why they carried out their bank raid other than they wanted the money and they are criminals – there’s no mitigating factors to give them any smidgen of humanity. Those kidnapped seem to be harbouring secrets, or are they just very nervous? We are only ever given hints, as the story rockets along.
Like I say, it’s a lean piece of work. There’s nothing spare in the story telling, the pacing is taught and edge of the seat – even a sequence in which the criminals journey into a small town conducting some local firework filled pseudo-religious festival doesn’t seem at all out of place. Every turn the plot line takes drives the action forward. There are some lovely twists and turns, but to say any more would be to spoil the entertainment.
There’s a lot of gunfire, blood and shouting – it’s a bruisingly loud and violent. For the most part it’s unlikely to stay in your memory much once the credits have rolled too, although there are some moments which may linger longer. The violence throughout is fairly run of the mill but a stroke ridden old lady ringing a bell while being approached by a killer is a very Hitchcockian scene, and the curious appearance of a version of Radiohead’s song Creep – sung in English on an otherwise French soundtrack – works weirdly well. The audaciousness of some of the story telling will also please hardened thriller fans.
It’s a short, sharp, nasty bit of crime fun, and works very well on its own terms.
Rabid Dogs is out on DVD 22nd August, but with the closure of the distributor Metrodome, check retailers for details.