Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SyFy vs. The Mynd: SnakeHead Swamp (2014)

A small transporter carrying what may or may not be some surviving super-size snakeheads from Snakehead Terror has a monster-related accident in the Louisiana bayous, and soon, the people of the surrounding area have to fight off a very special monster infestation. Ranger Carly Hardin (Terri Garber) has her work cut out for her, because the snakeheads don’t just threaten the local population but also her son Chris (Dave Davis). Chris’s best friend Ashley (Ayla Kell) has dragged him out on a swamp trip together with her asshole boyfriend Ian (Ross Britz) and a couple of friends to distract him from a broken heart. At least, Carly’s estranged husband Jim (Anthony Marble) is there to assist her.

To make matters more bizarre, local crazy swamp person William Boudreux (Antonio Fargas) is convinced the whole snakehead situation is the result of a curse laid on the local area by his great-great-grandmother…and he just might be right.

More often than not, it’s a good sign when a SyFy Original was shot in Louisiana. At the very least, this makes it easier for the film to present some clichéd yet loveable local colour instead of a totally generic US small town, providing a bit of spice between the monster attacks. Don E. FauntLeRoy’s (that must be a nom de plume, right?) Snakehead Swamp makes good use of these opportunities, delivering the pleasant clichés it contains with just the right amount of silliness, and really goes to work with the whole voodoo curse angle.

Strictly speaking, the voodoo curse doesn’t actually have much of a function in the film apart from taking up space. In a surprise movie, the film’s keeping the curse’s reality ambiguous, so the only thing it’s really good for is to provide Antonio Fargas with opportunity to ham things up, and help the film acquire something that discerns it from other SyFy monster movies. To Snakehead Swamp’s honour – and my delight – theses scenes never feel like the filler they are but more like fun parts of a silly yet entertaining story that isn’t too hung up on things like sense or logic.

So that plan works out nicely for the film, resulting in a SyFy monster movie that may have some of the crappiest looking monsters I’ve seen in one of these films in a long time but fills the time between the monster attacks in ways that make it impossible to disapprove of it. There are also some very funny lines of dialogue to enjoy, some choice losses of body parts to gawk at, broadly drawn yet likeable characters (who wouldn’t root for a middle-aged female Ranger and her non-asshole, non-idiot offspring?) and highly competent suspense scenes – despite the lack in monster quality. It is, in other words, a classic SyFy movie. If you ask me, that’s a fine thing for any film to be, and consequently, I enjoyed myself immensely watching it.

Finally, it would be amiss of me not to mention the amount of emotional catharsis and family reunifying powers this specific snakehead attack provides: these snakeheads are not just bringing a wife and a husband back together, they are also bridging the gap between a mother and a son, ending everyone’s grieving process for another son, and last but not least turn best friends into lovers. It’s just like one of these TV shows about angels fixing people’s lives, just with more blood and carpet bombing of swamps, or as we call it: superior.

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