SNAKE OUTTA COMPTON
Directed by: Hank Braxtan
Starring: Ricky Flowers Jr, Motown Maurice, Donte Essien, Aurelia Michael, Joston Theney, Jon Kondelik, Tarkan Dospil, Arielle Brachfield, Eric Paul Erickson
When science student Vurkel retrieves an egg from the carcass of a snake thrown out of a passing passenger jet (…), He manages to successfully hatch the baby snake inside. However, annoyed by his room-mates Cam and Pinball who are throwing a house party to celebrate their upcoming audition for a record company, Vurkel exposes the snake to his experimental growth ray, which turns out to be a lot more successful than he'd planned. Now there is a giant man-eating snake on the rampage, as well as a dirty cop and his protégé looking to exploit the situation for their own gain…
On the face of it, judging by the title and its dvd cover, you'd be forgiven for mistaking Snake Outta Compton for an Asylum movie, a cross between their creature features and mockbusters (albeit about 3 years too late to cash in on Straight Outta Compton). Despite the film's low budget fx however, this is a pretty funny and satirical film which keeps its focus narrow and resists the urge to have a scattershot approach to what its making fun of.
The weirdest part of this film for a UK audience is the character of Vurkel (Donte Essien), who is based on the character of Urkel from the US sit-com Family Matters - a show which never reached our shores. Without that instant recognition of the parody what we Brits are left with then is a very broad caricature of a "nerd", complete with braces and over-sized glasses.
The cast is definitely a mixed bag. Ricky Flowers Jr plays Cam, the leader of the rap group who are on the verge of signing a record deal. Cam is supposed to be charismatic, a leader, someone the others look up to and want to be around. Which is why its frustrating that Flowers is none of these things, bringing hardly any energy to the role and leaving the actors around him to pull his weight. Luckily his friends are more colourful - Motown Maurice, who plays his best friend Pinball ad Tarkan Dospil who plays Beexz Neez, the obligatory white rapper wannabe) at least look like they are enjoying themselves and bring some life to their scenes. The female actors are good - Aurelia Michael stars as Neon, the female backing vocalist and love interest (for both Cam and Vurkel, who pines from afar), and Arielle Brachfield as R.E.L, the record rep white girl misappropriating black culture in everything she says, wears and does.
It has to be said though that the film belongs to Joston Theney and Jon Kondelik as the two cops. They are clearly a parody of Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in Training Day - they are even called Denz and Ethan! It's not the best Denzel impression but Theney is having so much fun in the role as an amoral cop who believes he can write the rulebook as he goes along, spouting epithets for his new protégé to lap up and write down.
There is a lot of satirical scenes in the film, ranging from police racial bias ( there's a great scene early on when they spot REL brandishing a machine gun - "just a white chick taking her AK for a walk" - once Cam takes it off her, it’s a whole other story!) to the plight of homeless people (restrooms are for customers only!).
The jokes, for me at least, mostly worked and there were a number of occasions when I managed to laugh out loud. There were times when the film went from being plain silly to being Sharknado Stupid, especially with its climactic battle.
The film doesn't contain any decent fx work - its all cheap and cheerful. Clearly the makers of this have learnt from Asylum that you don't need mega-budget fx to make a film like this work. I was however annoyed with the sound mix for the rap songs - especially the one at the end which lures the snake for its climactic showdown.
Snake Outta Compton was directed by Hank Braxtan, who previously directed UNNATURAL, aka MANEATER, which I reviewed a while back and thought was pretty decent. This works less as a creature feature and more as an out and out comedy. If you can embrace the title and go with the silly fx, there is much to enjoy In this.