Studio: Uncork’d Entertainment
Director: C.A. Cooper
Writer: C.A. Cooper
Producer: C.A. Cooper
Stars: Eaoifa Forward, Dan Paton, Rachel Warren, Renate Morley, Stuart Nurse
Three friends struggle to survive physically and psychologically when they become trapped in a vacant building’s penthouse.
Privately consumed by traumatic depression, introvert Alice is furtively overprotective of her diary when the father she lives with gets too close to its little lock. Alice’s flighty friend Lizzy just pinched a key from her own father, a realtor with access to a vacant apartment complex. Now the girls are sneaking off on a “don’t tell anyone” getaway at this remote beachside building with Lizzy’s boyfriend Carl. Carl is a textbook bad cad sleazy enough to make perverted passes at Alice when Lizzy isn’t looking, yet charming enough to remain inappropriately entertaining at party time.
It’s strange that the adult actors of “The Snare” aren’t playing teenagers, at least I don’t think so, though the story characterizes them as if they should be. Swap the abandoned apartment for a woodland cabin, add a beer bong montage set to disposable pop rock, and the background above is the same setup used by more horror movies than can be counted.
I can’t tell if writer/director C.A. Cooper wrote Alice, Lizzy, and Carl to act with stereotypical immaturity, e.g. tiptoeing behind their parents’ backs or playing a colorfully vulgar game of ‘Would You Rather?’ on their car ride, and ended up with actors ten years too old, or if Cooper chose to deliberately depict them with behavior well behind their age. Either way, capably competent performances do not quite present the people those descriptions suggest.
Deceptive descriptions are commonplace with “The Snare.” Promotional loglines mislead about what type of thriller it even is. Several summaries employ the word ‘paranormal’ in connection to the trio becoming trapped in their top floor penthouse, implying a haunted house mystery. A press release touts “in the tradition of Evil Dead,” a comparison so far off the mark regarding content and tone, it could only have come from someone who has never actually seen “Evil Dead.”
“The Snare” is more akin to a minimalist take on “The Shining,” if the “it’s like…” game must be played. Alice, Lizzy, and Carl become inexplicably trapped on the empty building’s top floor when the elevator stops working, the impenetrable stairwell door locks, and all phones suddenly lose power. From there, “The Snare” exists predominantly as a physical survival story mixed with some supernaturally psychological torment maybe manipulated by a malevolent presence, or possibly the product of collectively cracking sanity.
I’m reticent to recycle a phrase like “not for everyone” in describing “The Snare” because that’s true of every film and offers little to no useful information. Except “The Snare” is such an odd blend of curious character study, inconsistent tempo, difficult themes, and Spartan aesthetics that no single assessment can break it down objectively for all audiences.
It’s not a love it or hate it film. It’s a be intrigued or be turned off type of movie. Confrontational content includes a chilling, albeit cautiously framed, flashback of incestual sexual abuse, two rapes, and plentiful close-ups of maggots writhing in rotting food as well as a rabbit carcass. “The Snare” can graphically grab when it wants to, and is intentionally uncomfortable to look at in such moments.
It isn’t merely the material that is challenging. A very slow burn psychological thriller built mainly from mood, “The Snare” challenges patience with its pace. If a pulse can handle the quickening from scattered shots of gore and sexual violence, it also has to be fine with deadening to a dull blip during protracted establishing shots of countryside vistas, winding highways, or languid faces staring pensively into space.
Watching constrictively intimate interplay involving three people trapped in a smallish space over a long period of time is, well, “not for everyone.” Yet there is a hypnotic quality about the film’s experimental simplicity that can captivate, provided personal tastes allow it to be tuned in.
Even then however, the ball of nightmarish introspection “The Snare” rolls up its hill becomes stuck in the mud of overly arty ambiguity. It never fully peaks over that hump where its narrative can fully satisfy as entertainment or interpretive art because too much of the movie is left up to the imagination. Questions mulled regarding what is reality and what things really mean feel rooted more in indecisiveness rather than wanting the audience out of the nest to test their maturity.
Director C.A. Cooper may have accomplished exactly what was envisioned. But Cooper is less successful in communicating that intent to the viewer. “The Snare” is still weird enough to work as a worthwhile watch. Just be braced for a dreamy, sometimes daring, sometimes distracted mindscape movie that is, once again, definitely “not for everyone.”
Review Score: 55