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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Review: Rattlesnake

Director: Zak Hilditch
Screenplay: Zak Hilditch
Year: 2019

Netflix keeps on adding original horror movies to their catalog during the month of October, This month alone I have reviewed “In The Tall Grass”, “The Influence”, and “Eli”, and now is the turn for their newest addition, “Rattlesnake”. The new proposals that Netflix has incorporated into their catalog are an ensemble of lights and shadows, with some of them being decent and others that are not even worth watching, but luckily, “Rattlesnake” falls in the first category.

Katrina decides to start a new life and with her daughter Clara they face the adventure of going to a new place. While they drive to this new place, their car breaks down and while Katrina tries to solve the issue, Clara is bitten by a rattlesnake. In the despair of seeing the snake’s venom quickly affecting her daughter, Katrina accepts the help of a mysterious woman to save her, without knowing the high price she would have to pay for the favor.

The initial scenes of “Rattlesnake” are efficient in establishing the atmosphere and foreshadowing everything that will happen. This allows going in deep into the conflict of the plot without needing too much time to build-up. These scenes emphasize the tight relationship between mother and daughter, which plays a crucial role in the plot when Katrina is informed that to save her daughter’s life, the price to pay is to give someone else’s soul in return.

The premise of this movie is extremely interesting and gives a lot of space for being creative for creating suspense, but this aspect is not capitalized upon. Katrina must give a soul in exchange before sunset, which limits the bulk of the plot to take place during the daytime, which wasn’t the best choice since it takes out much of the surprise factor. The race against time neither gives it that frenetic pacing that it needed to help create more suspense and agitation to keep the viewer sunk in the story.

The moral quandary, foreshadowed in the initial scenes, is what’s best crafted in the movie. The script from also director Zak Hilditch in his second Netflix movie after having written and directed the great “1922” takes the viewer into the psychological struggle that Karina has about who to kill to save her daughter and how she is unable to do so. This character goes through a courage and bravery growth process fueled by her love for her daughter and her fear of losing her that is highly interesting and that is equally foreshadowed in the initial scenes. 

An important part that makes this character growth more significant and that makes the viewer identify with her is the acting. Carmen Ejogo (“It Comes at Night”) in her role as Katrina does a magnificent job and a great deal of the weight of the movie falls on her, as she is the one mostly on screen. The rest of the cast also does a good job and Hilditch offers a few tricks behind the cameras and practical effects, but it's Ejogo who makes this movie work.

“Rattlesnake” puts us on Katrina’s shoes in front of a hard decision that tests her moral sense and values in a plot that even while being interesting, could have been much more. The atmosphere never reaches the level of suspense it seeks, neither the plot the frenetic pace it suggests. Still, it’s worth watching for the acting and how interesting the plot is, although with the warning of the mentioned flaws and an ending that feels somewhat deflated.

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