A film about a disturbed young man who suffered trauma early in life, and lost almost everything that created a silver lining in his life.
Trigger Warning(s): Suicide, School Shooting Depiction, Graphic Violence
Review (with Spoilers)
Between this, Rudderless, and Blackbird, I don’t think I have any reason to see another school shooting film ever again in my life. If just because, with the inclusion of this film, I think I pretty much saw all the angles there could be, outside of a girl, or someone of the LGBTQA spectrum, being the main focus. Now, as for how White Rabbit stands out in comparison to the two aforementioned films, look below.
Characters & Story
When we are introduced to Harlon (Nick Krause), we meet a young boy who doesn’t really have the best father figure in Darrell (Sam Trammell). This is solely due to Darrell being the type who would call his own son a pussy, amongst other terms. But thankfully Harlon has a best friend named Steve (Ryan Lee) and eventually has something going on with Julie (Britt Robertson). But as circumstances lead to both leaving his side, and the comics Harlon loves being taken away by his dad, all means of relief leave. Thus making it seem only the voice of the White Rabbit (Todd Mclaren) can talk Harlon out of doing something drastic.
After watching two decent films involving the subject matter, honestly, the bar was set high. After all, Rudderless gave a good point of view from the father, and those who knew his son, and Blackbird dealt with discrimination based on the main character’s appearance. So, I walked in questioning what could this film bring? Well, a part of me feels that this is what I wish Blackbird was in a way. Mostly due to Harlon, like Sean, being someone who was bullied and misunderstood.
Though what separates Harlon from Sean, as well as from Josh in Rudderless, is we get to fully understand why he would think about doing something drastic like shooting up his school. It starts with his father having him shoot innocent little creatures, his father being the first person to bully him, and then the environment he grows up in. For, unlike in Faking It, this isn’t some southern town where there is tolerance or outright acceptance, for those who are different. No, if you are a little slow, or weird looking, you will get bullied and picked on. Just like Tommy (Zac Waggener) does to both Harlon and Steve.
And with us seeing each and every step which creates the psyche of someone capable of killing someone, it truly makes me feel that you can forego ever seeing Blackbird.
Perhaps my only issue deals with the final moments of the film in which the school shooting happens. For one, Harlon decides to dress like Sean would, or one of the Columbine kids, which is so out of character compared to the kid we got to know for a good hour and a half; then, during the shooting, for some reason the film has the extras running down the same hallway Harlon is shooting up, which was weird to me; and then came the ending. Something which I have mixed feelings on, but I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t go into details.
Overall: Worth Seeing
What makes White Rabbit worth seeing to me is the build up to the shooting. You get a real good look on how Harlon ends up with a gun in his hand, while at his school’s steps, and the humanization of him makes what he sees as the final solution seem like a really complicated decision. For while you see everything adds up, it doesn’t take away from how drastic his decision is. Also, what helps push the build is the inclusion of Steve and Julie who, unlike in Blackbird, were friends of the protagonist utilized in the most perfect way to help support their development. With all that said, though, after watching this, Rudderless, and Blackbird, I really can’t see any new, or interesting, approaches to this topic. That is, outside of the focus being on a girl, or someone LGBTQA, who is either the shooter or perhaps like Kate in Rudderless.