SXSW Review: THE SNAKE
A few years ago, Patton Oswalt showed up at SXSW Film Festival to present an unknown comedy called The Foot Fist Way. As many know, The Foot Fist Way launched the careers of Danny McBride and Jody Hill. So, when Oswalt returned to SXSW in 2009 to introduce another unknown comedy called The Snake, there was definitely a buzz in the late night air. The buzz was justified because The Snake is a low-budget exercise in dark, evil humor featuring great comedic writing and acting.
The film's title refers to its main character: a fearless, smug asshole named Ken (Adam Goldstein). Ken is the type of fellow that spends his nights working bars just to find one woman who will go home with him. After a getting faked out of a one night stand by his friends, Ken becomes obsessed with a very skinny girl (Nina Braddock) he sees walking down the street. Ken figures out that the girl is joining a "body image" group to sort through a bulimia problem. He weasels his way into the group by faking a behavioral problem. Ken then stalks the girl until she breaks down and goes out with him. Once he begins to get close to the girl, he cements his place in her heart by enabling her eating disorder.
Extracting laughs from such an ugly scenario is a tough prospect but The Snake delivers. A stray gross out gag or two pops up, including a vomit drinking contest with Margaret Cho, but the movie relies more on sharp writing and acting for its laughs. Adam Goldstein gets into the role of Ken to the point where its reasonable to ask if he is actually acting. Goldstein works with (and against) a largely female supporting cast. All of the actresses are great but Melanie Case is particularly good as the one person in the therapy group who is truly suspicious of Ken's motives.
As previously mentioned, The Snake is a low budget affair. In fact, the film looks like it was shot on consumer grade DV. The writing and performances more than compensate for the limited production values. If the film has a truly disagreeable flaw, however, it would have to be the abrupt ending. Nonetheless, The Snake is an fine piece of uncomfortable indie comedy that will hopefully lead to more films by Kutner and Goldstein.