Written and directed by Zak Hilditch (1922), Netflix’s original horror film ‘Rattlesnake’ follows a single mother who grabs the only way to save her little daughter, bitten by a rattlesnake, by taking the life of someone else, as a pact with the devil.
The film starts with an interesting premise, as it follows mother Katrina (Carmen Ejogo) and her daughter Clara (Apollonia Pratt) on a road trip. As they stop by to change a flat tire, a venomous rattlesnake bites Clara. Stranded in a desert with no help nearby, Katrina enters a nearby cabin to ask for help.
From there a mysterious lady miraculously heals Clara, but Katrina soon realizes the heavy price she must pay for the favor she just received. She finds herself compelled to do the worst in order to pay back her “debt” and that by taking the life of a total stranger before sunset in the rural town of Tulia, Texas.
If she ignores or runs away from the deal, her daughter will die for sure. The premise is very interesting but for those of us who are regularly watching world cinema, ‘Rattlesnake’ is heavily drawn from the Spanish film “El Pacto” (The Pact). Well, this might be even based on some other films or books, I’m not really sure.
‘Rattlesnake’ – Movie Trailer, Starring Carmen Ejogo
While “El Pacto” is good with cultural references or symbolism, ‘Rattlesnake’ has very fewer ingredients to make the whole experience interesting. The film does not really answer some basic questions or provide any explanation as to why this is happening. And if there is any equation between good and evil, then who is behind this?
Carmen Ejogo is good in performance, but there is not enough material to bank on. She, however, very effectively plays the character of a mother who is struggling a lot from the inside with a moral dilemma in saving her daughter and killing someone. Of course, how can someone decide on who deserves to die?
Nevertheless, we keep on expecting something really should happen in lines with the horror concept or at least the interesting premise. The movie is not scary at all. Moreover, the film also never lives up to the usual moral commentary, philosophy, or psychological aspects of the idea in play. It is just a linear story with a few prominent characters.
Director Zak Hilditch is already known for his Netflix film 1922 (based on Stephen King’s novella) which is a great movie, but ‘Rattlesnake’ is not the kind of movie which we were expecting after watching his previous project. We could simply wish that this had some clever writing to join the dots and moreover, the film also could have been trimmed down to another 10-15 minutes.
Plot: A single mother is forced to kill a stranger before dusk in order to pay back a mysterious woman who saved her daughter from a fatal snakebite.
Writer & Director: Zak Hilditch (1922, These Final Hours)
Cast: Carmen Ejogo (Selma, Roman J. Israel, Esq., Fantastic Beasts franchise, True Detective Season 3); Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy, Luke Cage, Lowriders); and Emma Greenwell (Shameless, Love & Friendship, The Rock).
Producer: Ross Dinerstein (1922, The Package, 6 Balloons)
Release Date: October 25, 2019
Distributed by Netflix