(director: Daina Reed; screenwriters: Hannah Kent; Camera: Bonnie Elliott; cinematographer: Bonnie Elliott; editor: Nick Meyers; music: Mark Bradshaw, Marcus Whale; cast: Sarah Snook (Sarah), Lily LaTorre (Mia), Damon Herriman (Pete), Greta Scacchi (Joan), Naomi Rukavina (Denise), Trevor Jamieson (Sandy); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sarah Shaw, Anna McLeish; XYZ/Netflix; 2023-Australia)

“An Australian dark psychological thriller.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An Australian dark psychological thriller directed by TV director Daina Reed in her feature film debut and scripted by Hannah Kent, that looms as a bleak mother’s guilt trip with too many inexplicable fairy tale happenings to fully comprehend. But the acting is superb and it’s worth watching for that alone.

Sarah (Sarah Snook) is
a fertility doctor, raising her daughter Mia (Lily LaTorre) as a single mother in a nice house in suburban Melbourne. On her seventh birthday Mia ‘rescued’ a white rabbit, and ever since then has been acting strangely.

Sarah wonders if it could be because the new wife (Naomi Rukavina) of Mia’s father (Damon Herriman) is expecting a baby.

Mia now wears a hand-made rabbit mask and is asking to see Sarah’s estranged mother Joan (Greta Scacchi), who she never met before but says she misses her–
telling mom “I miss people I’ve never met all the time.” Her granny suffers from dementia and resides in a nursing home.

Though Joan greets Mia with affection as she calls her ‘Alice,’ the name of Sarah’s sister who mysteriously disappeared many years ago when she was Mia’s age. Mia then unnerves her mom by identifying herself as Alice and wishes to be called by that name.

Sarah becomes unhinged as Mia has now sparked the re-emergence of traumas from the past that were repressed.
The problem is the story, perhaps influenced by Lewis Carroll, is too thin and leaves too many loose ends dangling. The creepy symbolism over the white rabbit
was too sketchy and too confusing to analyze without putting down the derivative and ambiguous film as a reminder of those fairy tales where the devil had a hand in the supernatural.

It played at the Sundance Film Festival.

REVIEWED ON 8/12/2023  GRADE: B-