Bullying. Drugs. Mental illness. All three are things we all hear about on a daily basis, but the latter is one that is the most misunderstood. Directed by Tim McCann, White Rabbit revolves around Harlon Mackey, a teen boy who develops schizophrenia after being forced by his father to kill an albino rabbit as a little boy while out hunting. On top of the mental illness he must deal with, he and his best friend Steve are both bullied at school and his dad is an abusive drug addict.
This all leads to Harlon hearing the characters in his dark comic book starting to talk to him, as well as having constant visions of the dead white rabbit speaking to him. His mother becomes concerned about his mental state, as she hears him talking to himself a lot as though he's having a conversation, but his dad doesn't listen and Harlon never gets the treatment he needs. No therapy, no meds, no support.
As a result, we see Harlon’s mental downward spiral that eventually leads to one horrific act of revenge on those who hurt him, although that part is left open to interpretation. So while some characters transform in a positive and uplifting way, Harlon transforms in the opposite direction.
Maybe it’s my love for psychology, but White Rabbit is one of the best films I’ve ever seen that’s based on psychological topics. Even if you don’t like psychology, you’d have to admit it’s an amazing film. The acting is powerful, especially from Nick Krause (Harlon) and Ryan Lee (Steve).
The storyline is all too relatable, whether the viewer suffers from mental illness or not. Drugs and drug addiction are so common nowadays that we most likely all know someone who’s dealt with it. Bullying is everywhere – not just in school but also in the workplace, at home, in churches, you name it. Abuse is an all-too-frequently heard of circumstance.
What most people never want to talk about, however, is mental illness – and it’s just as common as all of those things. Films like this really show what those with mental illness go through, as well as the things that can predispose someone to it. Abuse and trauma, such as what Harlon experiences early in the film, are often at the root of many mental illnesses. That’s what makes White Rabbit such a powerful film. It will definitely leave you feeling sad and with a churned stomach, but it will move you in ways most films never do.
White Rabbit also stars Sam Trammell as Harlon's dad, Darrell, and Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland, The Secret Circle) as his love interest Julie. Trammell's performance is so convincing that you completely forget about his role as a loving, caring, and supportive dad in The Fault in Our Stars. Robertson gives a great performance as always. She has a bright future ahead of her in film. The film was written by Anthony Di Pietro, who I hope will write more powerful films like this.