What would you do if you had seven hours to save the life of the person you love most? Enter the poisonous web of Rattlesnake, a brand new Thriller that became available on Netflix as of October 25th, 2019.
Rattlesnake stars Carmen Ejogo (Selma 2014, It Comes at Night 2017), Theo Rossi (Sons of Anarchy series, Luke Cage series), Apollonia Pratt (Jane the Virgin series), Emma Greenwell (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies 2016, The Rook series), and Debrianna Mansini (Crazy Heart 2009, Better Call Saul series).
Single mom Katrina Ridgeway (Ejogo) and her adorable daughter Clara (Pratt) are beginning a new life together. En route from Phoenix to Oklahoma, their SUV blows a tire and they are stranded on the roadside somewhere in the remote plains of Texas, but circumstances only get worse when Clara is bitten by a snake and requires immediate medical intervention. What follows involves a mysterious stranger (Mansini) saving the little girl’s life, and an ominous debt that must be paid.
Clocking in at 85 minutes, Rattlesnake was written and directed by Zak Hilditch (These Final Hours 2013, 1922 2017). It also features the acting talents of Joy Jacobson (Roots mini-series, Looking for Alaska mini-series), Bruce Davis (All Eyez on Me 2017, The Vast of Night 2019), Rio Alexander (3:10 to Yuma 2007, The Last Stand 2013), Spencer Mabrey (The Lottery short 2015, Great Plains 2016), Josh Kemble (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 2009, A Good Day to Die Hard 2013), Alexandra Nell (We Were Here short 2016, Single Ladies series), and more.
Billed as a Horror-Thriller, Rattlesnake does in fact fit into that amorphous genre. A Thriller with heavy Supernatural elements and plenty of drama, the true horror here lies in the unbelievable situation that Katrina is placed into. Imagine having seven hours on the clock to save the life of the one you love most, but only by taking the life of a stranger. It’s an impossible situation with no real winners, one that might bring elements of the Saw franchise to mind, but this story is an emotional one and not torture porn.
If you are thinking to yourself that this premise has been done ad nauseum, you are correct; we have certainly seen the ‘race against the clock to save a life’ Thriller before. However, there is an immense empathy created for lead character Katrina thanks to the superb acting of Ejogo, who crafts a truly relatable and likable character. Able to wear her emotions on her sleeve and to show the exhaustion, frustration, panic and terror inherent in her life or death situation, Ejogo commands the film and anchors the entire production with her sublime performance. In this, it is Ejogo who draws the viewer in and holds their attention and intrigue throughout the film.
Beautiful little Pratt, as Clara, isn’t given a lot of screen time, but she’s joyful enough to make a lasting impression. Instead, it is Katrina’s ultimate nemesis, Rossi’s Billy, who delivers a solid supporting role. While the bulk of Rossi’s character is an abusive bruiser, he is allowed one short but emotional scene to show his impressive acting chops. In this, Rossi brings something extra to his role and creates a momentary doubt as to Billy’s vile nature.
With a perfect score from Ian Hultquist (Assassination Nation 2018, Dickinson series) and an eerily formidable natural landscape, Rattlesnake is a banal story that utilizes stellar casting and enough extras in its production to make for an enjoyable watch. Adding to this understated but unnerving supernatural elements that create a haunting veil over the tale, and some blood spilled on the canyon floor, this is a film that’s likely to appease many viewers.
Will Rattlesnake be the best thing you see this fall? No, but it is engaging for its runtime and it definitely highlights the exceptional talents of Ejogo. Well-done for what it is, Cryptic Rock give Rattlesnake 4 of 5 stars.