Originally consisting of a series of eight short episodes shown exclusively on Lynch's website, Rabbits is no longer available there. It is now mostly available on DVD in the "Lime Green Set" collection of Lynch's films, in a re-edited four-episode version. In addition, the set and some footage of the rabbits are reused in Lynch's Inland Empire.
Rabbits takes place entirely within a single box set representing the living room of a house. Within the set, three humanoid rabbits enter, exit, and converse. One, Jack, is male and wears a smart suit. The other two, Suzie and Jane, are female, one of whom wears a dress, the other a dressing gown. The audience watches from about the position of a television set. In each episode, the rabbits converse in apparent non sequiturs. The lines invoke mystery, and include "Were you blonde?", "Something's wrong", "I wonder who I will be", "I only wish they would go somewhere", "It had something to do with the telling of time", and "no one must find out about this". The disordered but seemingly related lines the rabbits speak suggest that the dialogue could be pieced together into sensible conversations, but concrete interpretations are elusive.
Some of the rabbits' lines are punctuated by a seemingly random laugh track, as if being filmed before a live audience. In addition, whenever one of the rabbits enters the room, the unseen audience whoops and applauds at great length, much like in a sitcom. The rabbits themselves, however, remain serious throughout.
In some episodes, mysterious events take place, including the appearance of a burning hole in the wall and the intrusion of a strange, demonic voice coupled with sinister red lighting. Three episodes involve a solo performance by one rabbit, in which they recite strange poetry.
The rabbits receive a telephone call at one point, and later, at the climax of the series, a knock is heard at the door. When the door is opened, a loud scream is heard and the image is distorted. After the door closes, Jack says it was the man in the green coat. The last episode concludes with the rabbits huddled together on the couch and Jane saying "I wonder who I will be."
Lynch filmed Rabbits in a set built in the garden of his house in the Hollywood Hills. Filming took place at night in order to control the lighting. Lynch says that filming Watts, Harring and Coffey with the set lit up by enormous lights was "a beautiful thing". However, the process generated a lot of noise that echoed from the surrounding hills and annoyed Lynch's neighbors. The unique use of lighting to create shadows and set an uneasy atmosphere has been praised by critics.
As with most of David Lynch's films, the score was composed by Angelo Badalamenti.
Rabbits received positive reviews from viewers, who highly praised the sitcom for its lighting and frightening atmosphere.
Dave Kehr noted in The New York Times that it was Alain Resnais who first put giant rodent heads on his actors in his 1980 film Mon oncle d'Amérique.
Use in Inland Empire
Lynch used some of the Rabbits footage as well as previously unseen footage featuring Rabbits characters in his film Inland Empire (2007). Lynch also used the Rabbits set to shoot several scenes involving human characters. In that film, excerpts from Rabbits appear but the rabbits are associated with three mysterious Polish characters who live in a house in the woods.
Most of Rabbits can be found on the "Mystery DVD" in the 10-disc The Lime Green Set released by Absurda in 2008. This DVD features seven of the eight episodes, though several of the episodes have been edited together. "Episode 1" on the DVD contains "Episode 1," Episode 2" and "Episode 4" from the website. "Episode 2" on the DVD contains "Episode 6" and "Episode 8" from the website. "Scott" and "Naomi" are the same as "Episode 5" and "Episode 7," respectively. "Episode 3" from the website does not appear on the disc. Presumably, this episode would have been retitled "Rebekah," as it features only one performer as with "Scott" and "Naomi." The DVD's running time is 43 minutes instead of 50 minutes like the original version. The other seven minutes consist of title and credit sequences for each individual episode that were edited out to allow it to flow as a film.
Rabbits was used as a stimulus in a psychological experiment on the effects of acetaminophen on existential crisis. The research, in a paper entitled "The Common Pain of Surrealism and Death" suggested that acetaminophen acted to suppress the effects of surrealism.