Review: Jessicka Rabid (DVD)

Troma scrapes the bottom of the barrel with this recent acquisition of Jessicka Rabid, a micro budget horror film that tested my patience more than any other film in recent memory. Reader beware.

  • Director: Matthew Reel
  • Starring: Trent Haaga, Elske McCain
  • Year: 2010
  • Runtime: 82 Minutes
  • Company: Troma
  • Format: DVD
  • Discs: 1
  • Video: 1.78:1 - 16:9 - Widescreen
  • Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0
  • Region: 0
  • Released: 12/13/2011

Next month, Video Dungeon celebrates it's 1 year anniversary. That's one full year of reviewing the latest genre releases from dozens of video companies gracious enough to let me review their discs and voice my opinion. Creating & writing Video Dungeon has blown up from a passionate hobby to something of a part time job, and I love every minute of it. As much as I love it, watching certain films and having to review it in depth can certainly be taxing in some occasions. Watching and reviewing Jessicka Rabid is definitely one of those occasions.
A dysfunctional family, the Hoffmans, have been living their lives in a veil of secrecy. Incest, rape are a part of their everyday lives.  A product of which, is Jessicka (Elske). After years of nameless abuse of her family and neighbors, Jessicka has been reduced to something less than human.  She’s more of a family pet than she is a true member of the family. Jessicka is the tragic character brought up from her surroundings, and suddenly finds her opportunity for revenge.
I've seen a lot of reviews comparing Jessicka Rabid to 2007's Grindhouse & Lucky McKee's recent film The Woman, which in my own opinion is completely inaccurate. For starters, the term "grindhouse" is beyond diluted and nowadays is largely style over substance. Meaning if you make the film look rough as shit it's a get out of jail free card for not having anything else. Although, there are many notable exceptions that use the style but add true substance with their own unique spin to keep it fresh and entertaining. True standouts are Jason Eisner's Hobo with a Shotgun and Canadian retro film collective Astron-6's upcoming films Fathers Day & Manborg. Jessicka Rabid is not fresh, unique, or entertaining in the slightest.
Once I saw Trent Haaga was involved with this films, I have to admit I was definitely intrigued. Haaga was long been an associate of Troma, lending his talent to some of my favorite films the 30+ year studio of independence has to offer. Even Deadgirl, an excellent zombie-esque drama he penned is one of my favorite indie flicks from the last couple of years. I was disappointed to see his line delivery and acting in general is just lackluster, along with everyone elses performance in the film. It's borderline atrocious and completely sucks you out from the get go.
The film relies on a mess of haggard exploitation and Elske McCain's nude assets to keep your attention. Problem is that isn't a recipe for attention let alone enough to make a feature film. The film drags at a snails pace that leads to an inept finale you could see coming for miles. This abused woman gets revenge genre is tired and so run into the ground you can teleplay the entire film before the end credits run. You're hand will hover over the fast forward button as you contemplate your decision to continue watching. Trust me on this, skip watching Jessicka Rabid and seek out original independent features that don't meander on petty theatrics to draw you in. You, the audience, deserve better.

  • Video
Bluntly, Jessicka Rabid looks absolutely terrible. This isn't a botched transfer, it's just how the crew behind the film intended for it to look. It's grimy and grainy all throughout with bleeding saturated colors. I'm going to assume they shot digitally and manipulated the film in post to give it that retro aesthetic. That novelty wears off quickly as it becomes more of a headache than an achievement.
  • Audio
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mix is just as awful. Offering muffled echoey dialogue that makes the film even more of a chore to sit through.

Bonus Features
  • Audio Commentary - Director, Actors, Production Crew
  • Featurette - "Behind the Scenes of Jessicka Rabid"
  • Featurette - "Behind the Scenes Slideshow"
  • Featurette - "The Lloyd Kaufman Outtakes"
  • Featurette - "Elske McCain Hot Slideshow"
  • Featurette - "Digital Jessicka Rabid Comic"
  • Featurette - "Tromatic Extras"
  • Trailers