In 2006, Hollywood learned a valuable lesson when it came to the peculiar marketing of reptile crammed airplane thriller, Snakes On A Plane and that’s just because audiences go out of their way to say they want a stupid B-movie, that doesn’t mean they’re actually gonna pay money to see it…
Going viral for the title alone, producers scrambled to retroactively make the film as deranged as the internet demanded it should be, and then scratched their heads when the the exact same people didn’t bother going to see it.
“Too stupid!” complained some critics at the time, while others whined that it wasn’t stupid enough meaning that Snakes On A Plane was utterly fucked no matter what it did, but years later a slightly different tale has emerged that might suggest we were all a little hasty by claiming we’d have enough of those motherfucking snakes on that motherfucking plane…
Vicious Honolulu crime boss Eddie Kim is stunned when his violent bludgeoning of a man in broad daylight is witnessed by surfer dude Sean Jones and immediately orders his subordinates to wipe him from the face of the earth, but thankfully shouty FBI agent Neville Flynn manages to save his bacon. Intending to smuggle his brand new witness out to LA to testify, Agent Flynn comendeers the first class section of a commercial red eye flight and settles down to enjoy what he hope will be a relentlessly uneventful flight. Well, tough shit, Flynn, because Eddie Kim has come up with the most ridiculous plan to take out Sean that you’ve ever heard – he’s arranged for a shit load of various species of poisonous snakes to be stashed on board due to their cold blooded nature shielding them from heat sensors (so, no x-rays in Honolulu then?). Riled up into a bitey frenzy by a special pheromone, the serpents are then released into the plane via a time lock and hopefully will cause enough damage to make the plane crash… yeah, anyway… as the pilot and a sizable contingent of the passengers succumb to a veritable blizzard of fangs and venom, Flynn and resourceful flight attendant Claire try to rally the survivors to try to hold back this wave of slithering assassins as they try and simultaneously figure out exactly how on earth their going to land a plane when the flight crew has been pumped with enough poison to kill Zeus.
Will Kim’s ludicrous plan actually pay off or will Flynn figure out a way to get his star witness and everybody else to LA safely with the bare minimum of snake bites or will the staggering odds finally bite them clean in the asp?
Viewed today, it becomes apparent that time has actually been astoundingly kind to Snakes On A Plane, especially compared to the endless steam of low-budget goofs churned out by the Sy-Fy Channel, or other such deliberately tongue in cheek trash like Piranha 3D and actually proves to be quite the fun little time waster. Now, that’s not to say it isn’t as fucking dumb as a donkey on Mastermind, but then, what exactly were you expecting from a film that contains quite possibly the most needlessly convoluted assassination attempt in cinema history?
As the snakes manage to knock out the avionics purely by accident and take out the captain immediately by sheer chance, you wonder exactly how much of Eddie Kim’s criminal empire was amassed by dumb luck alone, but the movie realises that noone’s here for a bullshit-free plot and smartly switches from dopey cop thriller, to disaster film, to killer animal movie and then back again in order to keep this crap moving as fast as possible.
Unbelievably, it almost works and David R. Ellis (Final Destination 2, Cellular) manages to channel all the movie’s resources into unstoppable forward momentum which is suprisingly also maintained by the a legion of stock characters that covers virtually every genre sterotype in the book and then invents some bizarre new ones just for shits and giggles (Germophobe rapper, anyone?).
Samuel L. Jackson justifies the fact that he’ll agree to be in literally anything by doing his usual thing of shouting all of his lines regardless it the scene demands it or not and everybody else seems content to thankfully just have fun with the adolescent material.
However, where the film truly appeals to it’s target audience of the rowdy beer and pizza crowd is with the suprisingly nastily instances of snake related assault that gleefully ups the carnage to black comedy levels. Behold as snakes of all shapes and sizes attack people in the most darkly assuming ways possible; boobs, butts and, yes, penises have dripping fangs sunk deep into them in childish attempts to spill as much of the audiences popcorn as possible (choice dialogue: “Fucking bitch! Get off my dick!”). The disbelieving belly laughs continue as the film continues with the carnage with uncontrollable glee; an asshole businessman flings a yapping handbag dog at a huge python in order to stall it only for it to snatch it out of the air with it’s yawning jaws; a sleeping woman moans in pleasure as a snake crawls up through her clothes; a poor wretch is bitten on the tongue and suffocates as it swells to the size of a bar of soap; the film seems to be drunk on it’s own silliness as no plot point proves to be too idiotic to resist.
In the cold light of day, separated from all the online infamy, it all proves to be quite endearing and ultimately coils itself quite cozily with other famously dopey, big budget attacking animal movies such as Deep Blue Sea and Anaconda.
How much enjoyment you gain from Snakes On A Plane will obviously depend on your tolerance for Fast And Furious levels of logic – Flynn decides the best course of action to purge the plane of snakes is to tell everyone to put their seatbelts on before shooting out some windows…. obviously – but for some undemanding, disposable thrills that’s good for a laugh you could do a lot worse than this entertaining lump of snake crap.
Watch it in the right mood and it’s a good bet you’ll be hissing yourself laughing…