Don't watch Sensitive New-Age Killer alone. Not that the
film, also called S.N.A.K., is too scary to see by your
lonesome. Not at all. But I don't know if you can really appreciate it without
A low-budget action-comedy from Australia, S.N.A.K. does a
decent job with a not-too-complicated plot about a hitman and the warped
world around him.
Paul Morris (Paul Moder) is a hitman with a conscience. He only kills people
who deserve it - kind of the vengeful hand of Karma - though he doesn't think
about it too deeply.
He became enamoured with the trade at a boy when he saw a woman saved by famed
hitman Colin "The Snake" Adder (Frank Bren) and idolized the man, even keeping
pictures of him in his car and on the refrigerator at home for inspiration.
The next we see of Paul, he's just killed a dirty cop, unaware that another
police officer - a different kind of dirty - was there, too. Matty (Carolyn
Bock) makes Paul strip at gunpoint. Liking what she sees, she strikes a deal.
He stays out of jail if she can keep him in her bed.
One of the failings of S.N.A.K. is abuse of time. The film
jumps forward a year in time without any explanation, other than Paul and
Matty talking about their affair going on for a year. The only reason for the
jump? To give Matty time to become attached to Paul, who has been keeping a
secret - he's married and has a kid.
He also has a partner who is pure Australian stereotype. George (Kevin
Hopkins) wears a dickey and a cheesy moustache. He is trusted by Paul because
he saved Paul's life as a child. Their relationship hasn't aged well, at least
from George's perspective, because he's trying to get Paul killed.
Paul takes a pair of guns he got from George to a hit on a child rapist and
both of them jam. Paul returns to his old-lady mob boss with the bad
news and she gives him one more chance to get it right.
Here's another real problem - S.N.A.K. likes to toss a lot of
characters at you that have no real meaning to the plot. Some of them are just
there for jokes, like a midget mobster who wants people to look up to him. The
old lady who ordered the hit seems unhappy, but if there are any consequences
to her anger, we don't see them. When George helps screw up the next hit, Paul
isn't targeted by the mob, he just doesn't work for them anymore. It seems
like she was shoehorned in to make a joke about her having retarded children.
If the jokes were better, it would be fine, but S.N.A.K.
is only kind of funny when it tries. The rest of the film's humor comes
from unintended sources, like the fight scenes.
At a hit in a warehouse, George calls ahead in an attempt to get Paul killed.
Paul's other partner goes down, but the gun battle between Paul and the
warehouse crew is laughable. Big blasts come from the guns, but I guess no one
thought to put bullets in them, because 100 shots are fired without ever
getting close to their intended targets.
Why does George want Paul dead? Turns out he's in love with Paul's wife, Helen
Morris (Helen Hopkins), who looks a lot like George's dead mother. This is
just the tip of the sickness iceberg for George, it seems. Bizarre
bondage, watching his father's suicide and pulling a Keith Richards with
mommy's ashes are par for the course.
But things might be turning around for Paul. Matty gives him a tip
on a big job that will make his career and help pay them both handsomely.
A drug dealer is coming to town and he can take him out - except for one
hitch. The Snake has come back to town with the same idea.
What follows is a series of double crosses and a deeper examination of
life by Paul, who compares himself to the killer he's idolized for
Paul only kills those who deserve it and treats it like a job, but the
Snake loves killing, even listening to his victims' hearts stop with a
"I only feel alive when I'm taking a life," he tells Paul.
S.N.A.K. really picks up in the second half, when the story
elements have been established and the filmmaker cuts down on the jokes
without meaning. The one that does make it in is hilarious, as George holds
the line at a Chinese restaurant while Paul interrogates an employee.
What it lacks in sophistication, it makes up for in dark humor.
S.N.A.K. comes off as an homage to "El Mariachi" and Japanese
action flicks. It's not great, but it's not bad. If you watch it, watch with
friends, because it's exponentially enjoyable when you're all laughing at the
Shown in 1.77:1 widescreen, S.N.A.K. is not an overly pretty
movie. There's some overlay as even the title sequence is cut off by the side
of the TV. It's muddy in spots and grainy in others, so don't expect anything
close to high-def.
Direction by Mark Savage uses the limitations to tell a pretty straightforward
story in action sequences, but when he tries to get tricky, it all looks like
a student film.
Dolby 2.0 sound is unremarkable and requires some fiddling with the volume at
times to hear the dialogue. It's low-budget work, to be sure, but when the
story gets going, it isn't distracting.
Surprisingly, S.N.A.K. is flush with added content. The
director commentary is informative, excited and (at times) apologetic. Savage
knows what he had to work with and did an admirable job under financial
There's a "making of" featurette that's pretty interesting. It
pretty much confirms what you think watching the film - a guy who loves
movies shoestrings a decent little movie together.
A stills gallery and cast and crew bios are included. Nothing too interesting,
In Other Words...
In the pantheon of great films, Sensitive New Age
Killer will not be found. But while this dark action-comedy isn't on
par with "Snatch" or any of the Japanese action films it emulates, it does
entertain with a weird little story and some none-too-shabby acting.
Don't go out of your way to see this one, but if you're invited over for
a viewing, take a chance on S.N.A.K.
It's Recommended, especially if you're having drinks