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Shelley Seid

In the genre of horror movies, snakes are in a class of their own.

Serpent is the debut feature by Amanda Evans, which she also wrote.

The movie, with a cast of two humans and a black mamba, opened the Durban International Film Festival last night.

Serpent wants to be more than a B-grade horror flick, but does rubbing the original sin metaphor into the collective face of a movie audience turn horror into art?

Young married couple Gwynneth (Sarah Dumont), and Adam (yes really) played by Tom Ainsley, have had marital difficulties which resulted in Gwynneth having an affair.

At the start of the movie she's trying to break it off but things are getting uncomfortable and the lover is becoming menacingly aggressive.

When she hears that her conservationist husband has snagged funding to look for a rare insect, she trails along and off they hike into an area called Suicide Gorge.

They set up the tent, drink wine, have sex and fall asleep, only to be woken by the presence of a very long black mamba.

So here we are, in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Gwynneth and the serpent. While both lie as still as possible, Adam discovers his wife is not as pure as her name may suggest, and that he too is capable of sin.

Evans's attempt to manipulate the horror genre to work on a meta level is not a comfortable fit. On one hand she uses the touchstones of ...

In the genre of horror movies, snakes are in a class of their own.

Serpent is the debut feature by Amanda Evans, which she also wrote.

The movie, with a cast of two humans and a black mamba, opened the Durban International Film Festival last night.

Serpent wants to be more than a B-grade horror flick, but does rubbing the original sin metaphor into the collective face of a movie audience turn horror into art?

Young married couple Gwynneth (Sarah Dumont), and Adam (yes really) played by Tom Ainsley, have had marital difficulties which resulted in Gwynneth having an affair.

At the start of the movie she’s trying to break it off but things are getting uncomfortable and the lover is becoming menacingly aggressive.

When she hears that her conservationist husband has snagged funding to look for a rare insect, she trails along and off they hike into an area called Suicide Gorge.

They set up the tent, drink wine, have sex and fall asleep, only to be woken by the presence of a very long black mamba.

So here we are, in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Gwynneth and the serpent. While both lie as still as possible, Adam discovers his wife is not as pure as her name may suggest, and that he too is capable of sin.

Evans’s attempt to manipulate the horror genre to work on a meta level is not a comfortable fit. On one hand she uses the touchstones of the classic horror movie – terror track music, shadows and darkness, close-ups – while nature runs awry.

On the other she has taken on the cosmic battle of good and evil and tackled a dichotomy that’s defeated other eminent filmmakers.

The trade-off leaves us with a movie with little nuance in the heavy-handed meta-story, and not enough horror to sustain interest.

Despite that – possibly because of that – the film festival is the ideal forum for screening an experimental film made by a young South African, in which the ancient battle of good versus evil is presented in a super-modern idiom.

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