Snake Island (2002)

Snake Island (2002)

There’s terror in paradise.

An African tour boat operator leads his latest group of tourists onto Snake Island, a hunting resort famous for its resident snake population. Only the snakes have multiplied in number and grown more aggressive and the resort is now deserted. It isn’t long before the group realise that the snakes have killed everyone there and they face an uphill struggle to escape.

 

I struggled to write a synopsis for this one as the story is really flimsy but hey, it’s an island full of deadly snakes and a bunch of humans get stuck there. You don’t really need much more plot than that because it takes care of itself. Another title which does what it says in two words, Snake Island says it all really.

Truth be told, I quite enjoyed Snake Island. I was expecting more of the usual CGI killer snake rubbish but was pleasantly surprised with how Snake Island turned out to be. It’s a rather terrible film but it gets that bad in places, that it becomes fun to watch. Sometimes it’s nice to watch a film about killer snakes where the snakes aren’t giant 50ft pythons or mutated crossbreeds with piranhas but rather the common variety of snakes that you’d find across the planet. Real life animals can be scary as we know we could come across them at some point so the sight of real snakes slithering across the ground will be enough to make your skin crawl (if you’re like Indiana Jones and hate snakes). I’d rather watch that than another fantastical giant mega snake slither around the woods for an hour and a half.

Snake Island at least ticks boxes for its use of real snakes, with sporadic dodgy CGI snakes thrown around when required. Using real snakes adds an extra element of danger to the film as you realise that they will have been unpredictable during filming. There are lots of them too of all shapes and sizes. But that’s as far as reality goes. These snakes have had enough of humanity and are communicating, organising themselves into an army of slithering soldiers ready to wipe man off the face of the Earth. They set traps, they team up and they understand what we are saying. They’ve got personality and a little bit of nous. The fact that they’re on an island with no way off kind of puts a kink in their plans for world conquest however.

The snakes might well be the biggest stars of the film and you’ll support their cause rather than get behind any of the numerous characters who become trapped on the island with them. The characters are really unlikeable here and it’s hard to get behind any of them, save for William Katt’s writer character. Katt is a B-movie mainstay with appearances in such nonsense as The Bone Eater, AVH: Alien vs Hunter and the TV movie remake of Piranha and stars as Malcom Page. He’s fairly affable as a cheap hero and most likely only did the film for a cheap holiday to Africa for a few weeks shoot. The rest of the cast whine, moan, bitch and generally irritate each other constantly – the worst bedfellows to get stuck on a remote island with!

Surprisingly, there’s a fair bit of female skin in this one. Director Wayne Crawford knows exactly what he’s doing, spicing things up at exactly the point in the film where your interest will be trailing off by throwing in two topless women dancing to techno music, promptly followed by a snake doing the same thing (not dancing topless, just dancing!). In fact the whole film thing has a bit of a dodgy undercurrent of sleaze, prompting me to wonder what this would have been like had it been made in the mid-80s.

After this aforementioned nude dance, the film begins to pick up steam. It’s rather lacklustre opening salvo, which has the characters roaming the island for what seems like an eternity with the snakes lurking in the background and waiting for their opportunity, seems to go on forever. But the nakedness kicks off a chain of events where the bodies begin to drop. It’s almost as if the snakes were waiting to get a glimpse of the girls before deciding whether to proceed with their plan or not. Loads of silly low budget nonsense ensues, with characters being dispatched in quick fashion. Whilst the film tries to remain serious, there is an element of tongue-in-cheek throughout, almost as if the director knew what he was doing without making it totally obvious. The finale, free of the obligatory ‘blow everything up to kill the monster’ clichés, seems to round this off perfectly as one character battles his way through the snake-infested forest smashing the reptiles out of the way with a cricket bat.

 

You’ll hate Snake Island if you have no tolerance of terrible films but suspend your disbelief for a little and you might warm to it. I am under no illusion that this is a bad film but there’s just the right amount of charm, sleaze and the fact that it’s a bit different to every other snake film out there to make it stand out a little.

 

 ★★★★☆☆☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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