David Lynch’s Rabbits

Movie Review #879

“RABBITS” IS ONE OF THE MOST LYNCHIAN PIECES DAVID LYNCH HAS EVER CRAFTED.

★★★★
By Alexander Diminiano

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Released 2002 (available on DavidLynch.com w/ subscription)
Re-released November 18, 2008 (David Lynch: The Lime Green Set)
Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery
No MPAA Rating (contains disturbing content)
43 minutes

I cannot quite tell if “Rabbits” is aesthetically one precise medium. It evokes equal parts of a film, a stage play, a TV show, and a painting. David Lynch describes this as his “sitcom,” which is probably only half-true. It’s not a sitcom, though it’s his sitcom, and yet there’s so much more to it than just that.

“Rabbits” takes place in a living room over the course of several nights, and possibly a few days marred by absolute darkness. The camera sits in one single position the entire time. Actually, it cuts away twenty-eight minutes through the film to show us a telephone that is ringing and unanswered. We expect that no one will answer it. Then, it cuts immediately back to the shot of rabbits–humans in rabbit suits–strolling around the living room.

I am clueless as to what the symbolism of rabbits could be, but it’s there. They are entirely anthropomorphized. It’s like the Peter Rabbit children’s stories, as I recall them, but it’s warped, sick, twisted, and surreally adult. In fact, the film was used for drug testing. The results: that acetaminophen (Tylenol) suppresses the effects of surrealist art.

But I realize, as I review “Rabbits”, that “surreal” is not quite a word that fits David Lynch. He’s a Renaissance Man, as far as his abilities, considering that he writes and directs films–both features and shorts–as well as TV series and web series, and on top of that, he he paints and composes music. He’s also written and directed a musical play. The nature of all this he does is beyond surreal, in a realm that only David Lynch himself can possibly achieve: it’s Lynchian.

There are three performances in “Rabbits”: those by Scott Coffey, Laura Elena Harring, and Naomi Watts, as each of the three humanlike rabbits in the family. They deadpan their dialogue perfectly, and frankly, they don’t try and act like their dialogue makes sense. At a certain point in the film, we are led to believe that perhaps the exchanges between these characters will actually sound logical, but it hardly ever comes close. It’s another fascinating addition to the dream world of the movie, which, again, only consists of so many square feet of interior space. Incidentally, we are met not by a claustrophobic atmosphere but with the opposite.

“Rabbits” was initially released as a web series, available to DavidLynch.com subscribers. It was released in nine separate episodes. It has since been featured in Lynch’s DVD collection, the Lime Green Set. Each episode is separated by a steady fade to black in this complete version of “Rabbits”, which I deem the more essential method of watching t. It clocks in at forty-three minutes**, and there is bizarre consistency in the soundtrack throughout the film’s entirety. We hear torrential rain and eerie music that might have us looking around the room, at times. Sometimes a laugh track will come through, though never is it expected, and always does it add to the haunting atmosphere of this strange piece. Whenever a character enters the room, we hear a cheer track, and as we begin to anticipate this occurrence in the soundtrack, we also begin to dread it. The film’s TV-like accoutrements gift it with a considerably eerie effect.

“David Lynch’s Rabbits” is best under that title, rather than simply “Rabbits”. “Rabbits” could mean anything, whereas “David Lynch’s Rabbits” suggests that this is more unflinchingly Lynchian than Twin Peaks and “Mulholland Dr.” As a matter of fact, it is, and yet it’s everything we love from this auteur: its dreamlike symbolism, its dreamlike story, its dreamlike craft. Part of me would like the filmed explained. Another part of me would much prefer to remain in the dark and appreciate the film for what it is.

**When “Rabbits” was initially released in 2002, all nine episodes were present, at a total length of fifty minutes. When he released the film to his Lime Green Set, however, Lynch ultimately decided to exclude episode three, which gives the film a running time of forty-three minutes. Episode three is no longer available, unfortunately, as Lynch’s website is no longer a subscription website and does not feature “Rabbits” anymore.

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