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Snakes on a Plane

wtf — 7 years ago

Hollywood has processed airborne paranoia into some fairly odd forms over the past few years, but none more closely resembles a fever dream than Snakes On A Plane. How to describe it?

A $33m viral clip with an A-list leading man? Had the blogosphere not gonenuts for this movie, it might well have shed its astonishingly literal title, lost a chunk of its funding, been fronted by a has-been or a nobody and gone straight to video. Instead, well, it became what Wiredreferred to as “the best worst movie of the year” months before it was even released.

A throwback to the Seventies heyday of ludicrous aviation-disaster flicks? The insanely implausible threat, the cast of neurotics, stoics and unfortunates, the histrionics and heroics – all hearken to the kind of film that Airplane was supposed to have finished off for good. Even the interior of South Pacific Airlines 121 looks like it was last refurbished in 1974.

A particularly eccentric take on the “postmodern slasher” subgenre pioneered by Scream? The unpleasantly sadistic nature of the deaths in this film speak more to murderous gross-out than tongue-in-cheek disaster, and it obeys the rules: the first to die are a young couple busy toking and joining the Mile High Club … drug use and casual sex is apparently still punishable by death in the movies.

An instant camp classic in the vein of Showgirls, complete with rubber snakes, shout-along quotes, call-and-response and the rest? (In this respect, going to see it weeks after release in a virtually empty hall might not have been the smartest idea.) A movie whose makers know that you know that they know that nobody is taking this remotely seriously – except the unfortunate critics, who have no choice but to offer up their utterly redundant verdicts.

Or all of the above, plus a few other tropes and tricks borrowed from randomly from all over the place? There’s an air stewardess who has “just one flight left” before she graduates (does this imply that “flight attendant” is now as risky an occupation as “cop”?). There’s a (probably unintentional) Cronenberg-lite moment when two characters become aroused by an impromptu medical procedure. There’s state-of-the-art herpetological special effects, culminating in a chihuahua-eating anaconda, for pete’s sake.

I don’t know what the hell Snakes On A Plane is. The secret of its unlikely success may be that it doesn’t either.


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