Sarah Snook stars in "Run Rabbit Run." Photo courtesy of Sundance institute
Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Run Rabbit Run, which premiered Thursday at the Sundance Film Festival, shows Sarah Snook deliver a harrowing performance quite different than her Succession role. Unfortunately, aside from Snook's portrayal, Run Rabbit Run has little to offer.
Sarah (Snook) is a single mother caring for her daughter, Mia (Lily LaTorre). Sarah's father has just died and the funeral happened before the movie began.
Mia's father, Pete (Damon Herriman), is still in the picture with a new wife and child. Mia begins to act out more and more in ways that overwhelm Sarah.
At first, it all seems like real-world pressures mounting on Sarah. Mia wants to meet her grandmother, Joan (Greta Scacchi), who is in a hospital with dementia.
Sarah acquiesces and Joan calls Mia by the name Alice, which makes Mia fixate on the mysterious Alice. Play dates with other kids end in violence, and a school social worker questions Mia's home life.
All of this forces Sarah to reopen secret family trauma while coping with a daughter with her own needs and processing her own grief after losing a parent. That is a scenario rife with vulnerability, but Run Rabbit Run only manifests dread by employing lazy tropes.
The film suggests supernatural forces may be driving secrets into the open, or simply psychological forces revealing them. It only does so by repeatedly having Sarah see something disturbing that disappears in the next shot, causing her and the audience to question whether she really saw it.
The scariest part of Run Rabbit Run is that the mounting pressures lead Sarah to accidentally injure Mia. Hurting one's child must be one of a parent's greatest fears, and accidents are inevitable in the best of times, let alone when nerves are fraught.
By the end of Run Rabbit Run, the family mystery is rather obvious and anticlimactic. Snook is as powerful as ever portraying a mother pushed to her limits, but it's not enough to recommend the film.
Netflix will release Run Rabbit Run after the Sundance Film Festival.
Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.