Snake Outta Compton


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Snake Outta Compton
"Snake Outta Compton has evidently been made by people who care."

Remember the bit in Snakes On A Plane where the bad guy says that he chose that method only because he'd already exhausted every other option? Did you ever wonder why he didn't try the snake gambit sooner? Because what goes up must come down, and when you put snakes on a plane you endanger not only your target (and a few hapless passengers and crew) but also people on the ground below. When one of those snakes happens to fall on Compton it goes the way of most things falling from a great height, but one of its eggs happens to fall into the hands of dissolute wannabe rapper, reptile enthusiast and amateur mad scientist Vurkel (Donte Essien), and from then on it's clear that things are not going to work out well.

Throw in a giant energy ray to boost the new snake's powers and what emerges is a reptile to be reckoned with. Using the ray also drains power across the neighbourhood, seriously pissing off the rap group of which Vurkel is nominally a member. They don't have long to get their act together because the hippy chick one of them met at a party has managed to get them an audition with the biggest record company in town. But the real challenge is not the music - it's getting there. This already means they need to get around a local gangster and corrupt cops. Now they also have to dodge the giant snake that's slithering through the neighbourhood looking for trouble.

Copy picture

Fans of this kind of entertainment are used to settling for films with phoned-in performances and half-arsed technical work. Snake Outta Compton, however, has evidently been made by people who care. Occasionally, a cleverly framed shot or smart piece of costuming will let slip the fact that they also have talent. They're slumming it, and yet they know these slums. The performances are carefully pitched, recalling the best of Troma's output. The dialogue feels natural even in the most unnatural of situations and the chemistry between the central characters gives it additional energy. The fact that the screenwriters have a more extensive vocabulary at their disposal is nicely evidenced in the film's central rap battle.

The special effects look poor, of course, yet they're adequate for the game being played and quite frankly, given the existence of scenes in which Vurkel gets a little too intimate with his scaly creation, you'll probably be grateful that they're not better. Not a straightforwardly evil character, he's screwed up over a girl (Aurelia Michael) who has the gumption to turn him down, and his incel-style frustrations bubble to the surface as he begins to take on more reptilian characteristics himself. She, however, is no delicate damsel in distress, and is as determined as her male bandmates not to let any giant monsters get in the way of their ambitions - especially when they realise that they might just have what it takes to take on this monster themselves.

Though it doesn't quite get the opportunity to express the same attitude as its human neighbours, there's a suggestion that they take a degree of pride in their neighbourhood monster even as they move against it, and the film has plenty of punk attitude overall. Post-Sharknado, this is a return to a less cynical age when one didn't need to be a national hero vaunted by the President to battle giant size foes, an age when disadvantaged kids made their own entertainment, even if they needed a bit of gene splicing tech to do so. It's the anti-venom, the supersized serpent film you didn't know you needed, and it leaves the Anacondas of yore in the dust.

Reviewed on: 24 Jan 2019
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A rap group on the verge of signing their first record deal is the city's only hope in a battle with a giant mutating snake monster.

Director: Hank Braxtan

Writer: Hank Braxtan, Tim Johnson

Starring: Ricky Flowers Jr, Motown Maurice, Donte Essien, Aurelia Michael, Joston Theney, Jon Kondelik, Tarkan Dospil, Ariella Brachfeld

Year: 2018

Runtime: 89 minutes

Country: US


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