A review of “Snakes on a Plane” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for extreme gore, nudity and language

Run Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

 

 

Courtesy of a colossal internet campaign the question on everyone’s lips is: is “Snakes on a Plane” worthy of the hype? The answer, surprisingly, is an emphatic yessssssss.

Strictly B-movie but rocking with energy, “Snakes” is a minimalist action picture that goes all out to thrill, chill and spill -- guts that is. Samuel L. Jackson takes on the role of badass FBI Special Agent Neville Flynn, who boards Honolulu’s Pacific Air Flight 121 enroute to Los Angeles with a young witness (Nathan Phillips as Sean) who happened upon a brutal murder at the hands of a vicious crime lord and is headed to the mainland to testify.

Flynn and his charge take over First Class, enraging the elite frequent fliers who feel that Coach is the cabin of choice for the rabble. Little do they know that stingy leg-room and stale snack boxes will be the least of their worries.

 Economy class turns hell with wings courtesy of a cargo of venomous vipers strung out on pheromones, strategically placed on board to make sure our intrepid witness doesn’t reach his date with destiny.

Once the rapacious reptilians are unleashed it’s a gore-fest extraordinaire, each drippy moment more shriekingly blood-splattered than the last. With the help of capable, multi-tasking flight attendant Claire Miller (Julianna Margulies) the crew and assorted hoi-polloi attempt to beat back those sinuous bad boys with low-budget flair. Beginning with the newest members of the Mile High Club who become battered bait for sex-crazed serpents.

The snakes’ feeding frenzy engages the usual suspects – a snotty Brit, the ubiquitous rich bitch and even a celebrity rapper. Once Jackson utters his infamous motherf***ing line the crowd has been whipped into a delighted delirium of horrorific glee.

So bad it’s good? Better than that. “Snakes” chintzes on production and script but taps into a number of genuine fears – air travel, claustrophobia and things that go slither in the night – and wraps them up in a campy cinematic cheeseball. Color me surprised but “Snakes” has legs.