East End Film Festival: Jackrabbit – Review

by Jamie Garwood 

Directed by Carleton Ranney and co-written by the director along with Dustin Douglas, this film premiering at the East End Film Festival on 29th June stars Josh Caras (Simon) and Ian Christopher Noel (Max) as two young protagonists in a future America, wrecked by an apocalypse.

Set in the future after an event called the ‘reset’, survivors live in fear of overlords who oversee them through CCTV and track them down if they waiver, infusing a society full of fear and paranoia. This overwhelming loss of freedom leads to a high rate of teenage suicide, and the death of a mutual friend, Eric,  brings Simon and Max together along with a mysterious hard drive which may provide an answer to bringing down their fascistic dictators.

The ‘reset’ has made the land dormant, a hive of inactivity and has pushed technology backwards. Our survivors are left with analogue technology from the 1980s, floppy discs and Panasonic computers abound which brings a nostalgic tinge to the events – similar to Computer Chess – and harking back to classics like War Games.

The camera work in this film is striking mixing between following the actors through CCTV or instead using an omnipresent camera which floats through scenes as if you are intruding upon a private conversation. This sort of camera calls to mind the work of John Carpenter and this is further enhanced by the electronic score full of doom and dread in its synth sound produced by MGMT’s Will Berman.

In this day and age of stifling CGI on films that are bigger than the screens themselves, when we have battle royales between comic super heroes, it is refreshing to see a science-fiction film that is lo-fi in its production. Some of the most renowned sci-fi films have that low budget feel from Silent Running to George Lucas’ THX-1138.

The film harks back to films of desolation and fear such as The Omega Man, a country riven by self-destruction and a community trying to rebuild. The currency in the film is called Bit, a descendant no doubt of BitCoin prompting that everything has value but not much worth. Yet their is an inherent fear of technology which dominated Terminator 2: Judgment Day, whilst one character says ‘technology brings stability’ the fear that technology and artificial intelligence, a real hot bed of conversation lately in scientific circles is central to this narrative. This is in stark contrast to a film like Her, where technology does not merely bring stability, it brings control.

Coolly directed by Ranney who looks like a young talent to watch he brings a sense of naturalism to a futuristic story-line and is helped by a good pair of performances by Caras and Noel.


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