David Lynch continues to be a limitless source of output. Equal parts weird and wonderful, Lynch has long been the poster boy of the alternative cinema but Twin Peaks isn’t Lynch’s only foray into the small screen. His 2002 web ‘sitcom’ Rabbits shows Lynch’s same thematic nuances but in a new, interesting way.
The rekindling of Twin Peaks has been an incredible success for Lynch and has staved the gap between now and his last feature film Inland Empire from 2006. If you enjoyed the latter you’ll be familiar with Rabbits. Some of the most terrifying sequences from Inland Empire included clips from the web-based project. The show centred on the titular animal or rather humanoid versions of rabbits who, in typical Lynch style, exchange almost indecipherable dialogue while living in a shadowy and cold environment. Located according to Lynch “in a nameless city deluged by a continuous rain” where they live “with a fearful mystery”.
Now, at a time when Lynch is staying home amid strict social distancing measures, the director is digging into his archives to revisit past projects. After rekindling his vintage weather report series, the filmmaker has shared a new edit of Rabbits to keep us entertained.
The sense of monotonous dread is amplified by the atmosphere Lynch provides. Using 1950s domesticity as a stern and threatening rod, Lynch then uses human actors wearing rabbit heads to further add the dystopian spin we all know and love. Angelo Badalamenti, the long-time Lynch collaborator, only adds to this with his enormous score, which when coupled with the constant sound of rain and impossible to plan laugh-track, fills every scene with an ambient, fumigating existential panic. It’s a real joy.
The Rabbits series, which has appeared sporadically on YouTube in the years since its release, offers the chance to learn why the psychologists at the University of British Columbia are using the series as a way of inducing existential crisis in their research subjects. What more could you want than your favourite TV show to induced into a catatonic state of modern fear at every watch?
The series was Lynch’s first move to digital video, having been a previously staunch supporter of traditional film. It was a technique he then took onto 2006’s Inland Empire and beyond — a shocking move at the time. With a star-studded cast including Naomi Watts, Laura Harring, and Scott Coffey, who had all appeared the previous year in Lynch’s critically acclaimed Mulholland Drive, it seems strange that Rabbits has never received the attention that maybe it should.
Rabbits was only technologically engaging—it being ‘aired’ on Lynch’s website, which back in 2002 was like landing on the moon in a golf cart — it subverted a very familiar notion. The series is called a “sitcom” by many is it aligns with so many traditional elements of the medium. But in fact, it is a reactionary subversion of a sitcom. It’s not designed to please or placate but to challenge and charge directly at its audience. As ever with David Lynch, Rabbits performs inside and outside of its own parameters inciting dread and fear while laughing at the emotions themselves.
Watch the new edit of Rabbits, below.