Horror is a genre that tends to be pretty forgiving. Bad acting, tinny dialogue, technical difficulties and heaps of plot holes can all be overcome by the right concept or at least entertaining incompetence but the cardinal sin in horror is to be boring. So it’s a bit shocking to come out of a film as batshit crazy as Bunny the Killer Thing without a clear sense of whether or not you’ve just wasted an hour and a half of your time. A Finnish film that feels a bit like a Mighty Boosh parody of a Troma epic, Bunny the Killer Thing aims for gleeful shock and revulsion but mostly comes across as crass, abrasive and exhaustingly repetitive, even as it more or less accomplishes its goal of disgusting you into excitement.
Summarizing the plot of Bunny the Killer Thing basically comes down to reading off the ingredients of countless other, better horror works. It begins like Funny Games, as a vacationing writer and his wife enter their new winter cabin only to discover some masked intruders have already occupied the space. After dispatching the wife/girlfriend/mistress, the masked men carry the man off to a mysteriously topless mad scientist, who seemingly injects the poor man with what appears to be rabbit semen, kicking off what eventually becomes a Human Centipede-esque subplot involving forced lepus-human genetic modification. In between that, though, some horny Finnish youth run into some Guy Ritchie extras and head back to their own vacation home for some Cabin in the Woods Fever shenanigans.
Joonas Makkonen exercises exactly zero artistry in this stretch of the film, dropping his hapless characters into their cabin setting with about as much planning and care as a toddler dumping toys out onto a playground. There’s Jari (Roope Olenius), the strong, confident alpha male whose defining trait is his obsession with “warming up” Emma (Katja Jaskari), who gets two defining traits, one being a respirator mask she wears to cover up what appear to be a mass of cold sores while the other is a penchant for fashion design involving sapphic imagery (don’t worry, kiddos, this is a necessary plot element, not some random decision). They’re joined by Nina (Veera W. Vilo), who turns out to be a lesbian rapist, her breast enhancement obsessed friend Sara (Enni Ojutkangas), masturbation fanatic and panty-sniffer Jesse (Olli Saarenpaa), bearded weirdo Mise (Jari Manninen), and Tuomas (Hiski Hamalainen), one of many characters in the movie who suffers an unfortunate penile accident. None of these characters are particularly well-defined, even by horror standards, but they at least have more depth than the British criminals they’re artlessly paired with, with the possible exception of Tim (Orwi Ameh), though I confess that I mostly felt pity for him as a result of the pathetic racism hurled his way on a near constant basis.
You see, a lot of Bunny the Killer Thing’s “shock” tactics hinge on that kind of button pushing. Mise, a character who ends up being one of the more sympathetic figures in the movie, initially confronts Tim with racial epithets and “jokes,” albeit in an incredibly awkward way. Nina is revealed to be a sexual predator, which might be seen as an adventurous flip of horror expectations except for the fact that the film’s “monster” is a man in a cheap rabbit suit who runs around raping women to death while screaming “PUSSY!” over and over. And there is no clear explanation for any of this. Why does Mise initially act like a racist and then later shares a quiet romantic moment with Tim? I don’t know. Is the werebunny an actual bunny man or just a ‘roid raging freak in a bad rabbit outfit? I have no idea. Are all the instances of penile violence some kind of meta-SCUM Manifesto commentary or is Makkonen unusually obsessed with phallic amputation? Good question.
I’d be the first to admit that most of John Waters’ early material makes no real narrative sense. But what separates that kind of shock filmmaking from Bunny the Killer Thing is a consistency of vision and a true commitment to upsetting the status quo. Bunny the Killer Thing is a horror work patched together from better material that attempts to elevate itself by dancing over the corpses of taboos with no grace and no real plan. It wants you to be angry at it, to be infuriated at the scandalous places it goes. But really, it’s not too dissimilar from hearing a small child quietly say “fuck.” The kid knows that’s a bad word but you know that they have no real sense of its true meaning so you only end up mad at them for trying to be adult and failing. And like a child aiming for maturity, there is still a kind of endearing quality to Bunny the Killer Thing— it just tries so damn hard! A film that fails on as many levels as Bunny the Killer Thing is its own special type of masterpiece, especially when amongst its Evil Dead and Dead Alive rip off moments it also provides original sequences, like a dildo murder cam and a totally incomprehensible devotion to a subplot involving CGI squirrels.
I would never dare recommend Bunny the Killer Thing, as it’s not quite mind blowing in its badness to reach The Room levels of entertainment and a little too competently made to work on a double bill with, say, Birdemic. But connoisseurs of trash films will find at least a few moments of zen ineptitude to give them their fix and everyone else can use it as an example of how Americans don’t hold a monopoly on being offensive jerks. I doubt that’s the kind of endorsement Bunny the Killer Thing dreamt of receiving from critics, maybe the sequel its ending optimistically hints at will straddle the trash/art divide a little more equally.
Morgan Davis sells bootleg queso on the streets of Austin in order to fund Loser City. When he isn’t doing that, he plays drums for Denise and gets complimented and/or threatened by Austin’s musical community for stuff he writes at Ovrld, which he is the Managing Editor of.