Snakes on a Plane is a movie I feel even weird writing about. A movie just made because of a silly title and internet lore, but somewhat forgotten once it was released. The very definition of pre-release-hype. And it is not a great movie, at least depending on your taste or interest. Maybe it’s in that kind of B-movie style that you enjoy it, if you like far-out violence and silly plots. But I found the movie especially disappointing in this area because for the most time it plays so serious. Yet, the story is also boring and the movie just doesn’t feel as entertaining as it should be. It also feels the need to use many, many stereotypes and uses sexuality both for gratuitousness and shock. The movie is weirdly uneven and you can really see how it was cobbled together without much thought, but just to exploit its hype (unsuccessfully though).
What bothered me again is the violence. It is nasty violence so much because it enjoys having people suffer from it. It is creative, for sure, but to what avail? Why are we supposed to enjoy seeing people in pain who are completely innocent or at least average people? Snakes going into mouths, eyes or other orifices, a man being stabbed by high heels or falling on sharp things with their neck are not my idea of fun. And, to sound all prude and old-fashioned, should it be fun? I mean, there can be a sort of cartoon violence that I’m willing to somewhat enjoy (although I can’t think of an example right now…) or violence that has a purpose (as Tarantino uses it). But this sort of violence just doesn’t appeal to me in any way. It’s more than just squeamish, it’s just mean and cruel. This is supposed to be a camp movie and there is an amount of violence expected but does it have to be so unpleasant? I don’t know, I expected snakes but not this dark, demeaning waste of human lives.
What makes it even worse (or weird) is how much the violence is connected to sexuality. Everyone is punished for sex or sexual thoughts. A young, harmless couple has sex on the toilet and the camera lingers on their nudity, but then they are attacked by the snakes, indeed, they are the first victims. And wouldn’t you know, that the second thing a snake puts its teeth into is one of the woman’s breasts. Nice, right? We see a guy flirt with another woman, he goes to the toilet and before he knows, he has a snake chewing on his… snake (sorry, had to do it). It’s relatively graphic, I mean you see his penis more than Ben Affleck’s. Anyway, next, we have a stereotypical fat/ugly older woman, who has snakes crawling up on her during her sleep, and she enjoys it of course, because, hey, no man touches her, ha ha. She dies horribly, too, later. So, what’s with the moral imperative on sex here? Where does it come from? What does it have to do with anything in the movie? The first victims are all connected to sexuality and they are even attacked at sexual body parts. For a movie that wallows in violence and camp, it’s stance on sexuality is shocking. And don’t tell me, it’s tongue-in-cheek, because it sends a clear message which is older than internet hypes (Hello, Jacob and Wilhelm!).
The movie also has some racism issues, which I don’t want to get into, but at least it hints at a possible interracial relationship between Julianna Margulies (who also doesn’t do so bad for a female character - unlike all the other helpless women in this movie) and Samuel L. Jackson. It doesn’t make the movie progressive suddenly, but at least it’s something.