Serpent is one for the thriller fans to enjoy and the snake haters to be left shaking at as a couple work through their differences while trying not to get eaten.
The directorial debut of Amanda Evans is a thriller following a married couple, Adam (Tom Ainsley, The Royals) and Gwynneth (Sarah Dumont, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse), who go camping in the South African wilderness only to find themselves trapped in their tent by a venomous snake. In the tent they must face the truths of their marriage to find a way to escape alive.
We have seen plenty of isolation-based thrillers, from solo ones like The Shallows or a couple in Backcountry. It’s one of the best ways to create tension in any movie because we know the animal involved hasn’t done anything out of its nature and the humans just want to survive. By not creating a true villain this will give us a chance to not just see the animal kill or be killed. This brings our couple face to face with a snake; not a silly-sized one, just a natural one that is trying to get through its simple life. It doesn’t just attack; it waits until provoked to defend itself. Once the event of the couple being trapped happens we see how calm they must stay just to survive, which can work both with tension building and emotional trauma for the couple.
The location is key. The wildlife area they attend is one that Adam is allowed to research on, which firstly gives us a good reason for them being there and shows us that the area isn’t the safest and is off-limits to the general public, meaning nobody is going to be walking past at any point.
The fact we must put all our attention on two performers means we must wait to see if they can keep us interested in the film. Tom Ainsley and Sarah Dumont do give us a belief, because we see the tension in their marriage coming through in revelations while being trapped. We can’t see them run, shout or scream, they must keep everything calm through a situation that would ordinarily see people getting out of hand, with emotions taking over.
The snake itself, for the most part, does seem like it is a real one. Now I only make this point because of events later in the film. The problems come with horrendous CGI moments strangely not involving the snake, and they will take you out of the film, which disappoints from everything we have seen leading up to this moment.
Overall this is one of those movies that will make you think twice about going into the wilderness because of the danger the wildlife can offer. We do get smart decisions being made by the characters who are able to assess the situation without panic, trusting each other to survive this, while having big trust issues elsewhere in their lives. It will grab your attention with its subtle use of tension because we can’t have wild movements; we must wait for a big moment which will see any attempt of rescue. One for the thriller fans to enjoy and the snake haters to be left shaking at.