Man in the Rabbit Mask, The (Short, 2017)
Directed by Ariel Hansen
Written by Joel H. Brewster
Short films have always been an important part of any cinema community, and the horror industry is no different. Most recently we’ve seen the Lights Out short given the feature film treatment, and many others came before it. The Man in the Rabbit Mask intends to be next in line.
Currently a five-minute short, The Man in the Rabbit Mask is essentially a proof of concept video for a full-length film script written by the author of the short, Joel H. Brewster. In the film, a pair of girls having a sleepover play a game of chicken with a much less feathered creature, Mr. Rabbity. A short poem lures him from the darkness:
“I dare you to laugh. I will get you to scream. I may show up to take you, or just in a dream. I trade sweets for souls, that is part of my game. Read this poem by candle, and three times speak my name.”
Needless to say, the chicken wins this round, as the girls (Lucy and Cara) realize they have made a grave mistake. Mr. Rabbity’s figure looms menacingly from the corner of the room, and he offers the children a sweet. While his face is obscured, it’s clear that the man behind the mask is one of many charms. He wears a Victorian-era suit, and his very mask is as grotesque as it is intriguing. The end of The Man Behind the Rabbit Mask is fairly certain, but I’d rather not give it away, as it’s interesting to see how the girls react.
In digesting The Man in the Rabbit Mask, I paid close attention to the actor performances. While child actors are not always my favorite, I was most impressed by Iris Truong (Lucy). She plays the sheepish and nervous one of the two girls, and it comes off as very natural. In one moment in particular, Lucy finishes reciting the Mr. Rabbity poem with her eyes closed. When she opens them, Cara is nowhere to be seen. The potential for mock concern is really high in a scene like this, but as Iris squeaked out Cara’s name, I was pleasantly surprised by the fear in her voice. Sounds rather offensive to take pleasure in a child’s fear, but the fact of the matter remains that realism is tantamount to successful horror.
Lighting was another very important part of The Man in the Rabbit Mask. Lucy and Cara are supposed to read their poem by candlelight, so a good portion of the short is lighted as such. The moment in particular when Lucy is speaking Mr. Rabbity’s name reminded me of a scene in Lights Out that was lit only by candlelight. The flickering single light source gives the scenes a very raw and real feel.
All said and done, The Man in the Rabbit Mask was a compelling five minute short. The acting was a little hit or miss, but I greatly enjoyed Iris Truong’s portrayal of Lucy, and Chris Walters as Mr. Rabbity. The lighting was superbly memorable, creating a very eerie and tense atmosphere when the villain was on screen. It would be interesting to see how The Man in the Rabbit Mask would translate to a feature film.
If you’re equally curious how that would work out, check out the film’s Storyhive page, where they’re competing for grant money to assist in making the full-length film a reality.