For some reason, many psychological thrillers are set in the South or in parts of America that are rural, trailer park-littered or downright white trashy. It’s the go-to location for films that dig deep into the human mind and expose darkness, grit and in some cases, psychosis. White Rabbit is one such film and while it has a lot of the conventional thriller movie tropes, it does offer some fresh faces in the cast and some rather inventive filmmaking techniques. Not all audiences will find this picture appealing. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that it will repel some and be considered in many instances, quite offensive. The psychological aspect can be a bit of a tough pill to swallow and the tension between the characters is palpable. Basically, it’s a dark film with a lot going for it.
Harlon (Nick Krause) is a socially awkward teen who lives in a dysfunctional household with Darrell (Sam Trammell), his alcoholic/drug-addled father. Darrell uses Harlon as an emotional punching bag and it certainly has its adverse effects. A traumatic hunting incident where Darrell forces a young Harlon to shoot and kill a defenseless white rabbit leaves a big enough mental scar that this contributes heavily to his current state of emotional turbulence. Bullied on a regular basis at school and coping with his bestfriend’s (Ryan Lee) recent suicide, Harlon is having one hell of a week. He soon strikes up a romance with out-of-towner Julie (Britt Robertson) and this only serves to complicate the young man’s already exceedingly complicated life.
White Rabbit is a film with many layers. The plight of Harlon is a curious one and the viewer is in for one crazy ride. Nick Krause (The Descendants, Boyhood) isn’t the best actor, his performance is a tad wooden with little to no emotion but he does his best with the character. Britt Robertson (The First Time, Dan in Real Life) is cute as a button as the free spirit Julie and Ryan Lee (Super 8, This is 40) does a fine job as the sidekick who succumbs to his own depression. It’s pretty remarkable how such a young person has such a firm grasp on the human condition. But the real star here would have to be Sam Trammell (True Blood, The Fault in Our Stars) whose portrayal of a substance-abusing redneck father is spot on and provides for some of the film’s meatier subplots. He is simply wonderful in this.
Told in a smart combination of straightforward narrative, flashback and hallucination, White Rabbit is a visual feast for the senses. Director/editor Tim McCann (Revolution #9, Desolation Angels) keeps the viewer guessing all throughout the film, challenging said viewer to dig deep and unravel the mysteries of the plot all the way until the film’s chilling finale. Harlon’s adventure is a strange one but it is definitely one worth exploring. While White Rabbit may not be everyone’s cup of tea, it is a painfully honest story about flesh and blood characters. It’s not a feel-good picture by any means but it is most definitely a powerful exercise in dramatic cinema.