East End Film Festival: Jackrabbit

Directed by Carleton Ranney
Starring Reed Birney, Josh Caras and Ian Christopher Noel
EEFF Screening: June 29th, 9:30pm

by Lewis Church

If good sci-fi always reflects its time and not the future, then one of the few benefits of the current global political and economic clusterfuck might be that we can look forward to some original and exciting future-shocks in cinemas. Jackrabbit is clearly taking a stab at that, with aspirations of profundity in its tale of an unspecified American city sometime after a techno-apocalypse known as ‘the reset’. Essentially, technology failed and computing has moved back about 40 years. A technology company runs the city that the film takes place in, and they rule with a CCTV eye like Big Brother with a corporate social responsibility department. Jackrabbit is reaching for some comment on our reliance on technology, and the burden of constant connectedness, although by the end it hasn’t really coalesced into any clear message or central point.

There are some good things about it – the performances are solid, and the scavenged technology from the 80’s and 90’s is well used by the production designers. The film is full of grimy SCART cables and enormous circuit boards, curved CRT monitors and clackety keyboards, which is a nice deviation from the ultra-clean and slick. If you did most of your growing up in the 90’s, there’ll no doubt be a Proustian rush involved in hearing the whirring of the old computers and their flat buzzing. The John Carpenter-esque soundtrack is good too, with its swelling synth stabs generating some tension in key scenes. Mostly though, the film is pretty flat through trying to be mysterious, and there is very little sense of the character’s motivations for doing anything that they do. I’m also pretty tired of the grey-flannel techno-hipster look that has become the go-to costume department line when dealing with the post-apocalyptic. It’s drab and grubby and old hat.

Jackrabbit feels like the very definition of a three-star film. It has some good points, one or two interesting ideas and a solid set of performances, but is meandering and predictable. The few moments of shock are far more likely to make you go ‘huh?’ than ‘woah!’, and it has very few things in it that haven’t been done better before. It’ll be on late night television one night and you could watch it and enjoy it, but it’s unlikely to stay with you very far beyond.



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