Film Review: Cut Snake (MA, AUS, 2015)

Cut Snake is not your average crime thriller, it also explores the deeper and darker mysteries of understanding ourselves and sharing our secrets with the people we love. The complexity of life and love and how it’s not a simple case of black and white, and how the lives of three people become changed forever.

Paula (Jessica De Gouw) and Sparra (Alex Russell) look like a perfect young couple, in love and setting up their first home together now that they’re newly engaged. But their life gets turned upside down when a man from Sparra’s past called Pommie (Sullivan Stapleton) shows up. Sparra has kept his past a secret from Paula, but with the arrival of Pommie comes the unravelling of all his hard work at starting a new life. Paula is intrigued by the charming Pommie at first, but she soon discovers that he’s an ex-con and becomes suspicious of his motives. Sparra now caught between his criminal past in Pommie and his new future with Paula must make a decision between them.

The first thing you’ll notice with this film is that even though it’s never explicitly stated what year it is, you immediately are transported to 1970’s Australia. Weatherboard houses, old Holdens, rotary dial telephones, and those skimpy cotton shorts that were all the rage. It’s an immediate vibe that the film exudes which gives the story and subsequently our characters a more authentic feel. Our three main characters are all unique but all strongly shaped individuals. Sparra is a quiet young man but fiercely loyal and it’s his loyalties which become tested. Paula comes from a well off family with traditional values but is independent and excited about the prospect of starting her own family. Pommie is a charming and charismatic man but fuelled by a passionate rage, and a love that sadly won’t be reciprocated. The relationship between Sparra and Pommie is one of an unhealthy co-dependency, Sparra needed Pommie for protection and possibly a father figure, whilst Pommie could manipulate Sparra and his pent up rage and frustration as a weapon. When all of these strong willed personalities come together it’s sure to create explosive circumstances and director Tony Ayres steers the ship well.

The beginning has a lot of tension building, it feels like a long slow fuse connected to a pair of powder kegs waiting to explode. The anticipation building is well measured and doesn’t feel like it’s going too fast or too slow. We just have to sit back and wait to see who cracks first and how the story unfolds. Admittedly it is a fairly basic story, but this feels more like a character driven film anyway which writer Blake Ayshford has crafted well. The performances by all of our leads are solid and well rounded, Russell and Stapleton’s looks that they share each other are done in a subtle way that speaks volumes; far more than dialogue could convey. Jessica De Gouw is great as a young woman suddenly burdened by her partners past and trying to decide if it’s worth fighting for. The twist and reveal a little over mid-way through the film is great, and even though not a huge surprise it still plays into the exceptionally structured character development.

Cut Snake is a crime thriller with a relationship driven story as its core. The way that it gradually builds the tension and reveals its truths is well measured and makes for some great suspenseful moments that are really well portrayed by our core actors.

Running Time: 94 minutes

Cut Snake will screen in Australian cinemas from 24 September 2015 through EntertainmentOne