The film is split into three main Acts: The first Act sees the priest explaining his crimes to his shrink; an uncomfortable 10-minute exchange in which he piningly describes how he abused children. He admits that he may have found redemption and a future with his new transgender girlfriend. Act Two sees this woman having a conversation with her friend in a diner about visiting the priest, and drops the fairly big - but extremely obvious - bombshell that she is in fact one of the priests’ victims, now seeking revenge. The final Act sees her visiting the priest to exact her vengeance.
The main problem is the delivery of this revelation; only halfway through the film, and slipped somewhat clumsily into conversation, we get a major plot point that somewhat undermines the whole ending. What could have been a great twist to round off the film, ends up leaving it feeling a little empty. A tragic mistake that undermines the entire film in a substantial way - especially after the strong first Act.
Though Snake With A Human Tail qualifies as a horror film due to some scenes containing blood and gore, it didn’t really need to be. At times, it comes off a little insincere and somewhat lacks in its attempts to be artsy. There is a good story here; a lustful, abusive priest receiving judgment from one of his former victims, permanently scarred by his actions. Unfortunately, it’s being pulled in all sorts of directions - dancing between horror and art-cinema.
At its core, it has overlooked what being a film is about – telling a story – and the result is something unsure and discordant. Taking things back to basics, sticking with the central premise of the story with no unnecessary gore or artsy imagery would have resulted in something more impactful.
Indie Short: Snake With a Human Tail
By Ross Wildish - 2nd October 2015
Snake with a Human Tail is a 30-minute short film written, produced and directed by Spencer Gray. It revolves around a priest with a history of sexual abuse towards children, and his struggles with redemption and judgment in the eyes of both God and his fellow man. It’s a very relevant story given the reported widespread abuse within the Catholic Church, and one that deserves to be told properly.
Short-films are a very under-appreciated corner of the cinematic world. They allow tantalising glimpses into new worlds and stories, and give independent filmmakers an opportunity to cut their teeth on a more manageable project. However, with a shorter duration there are limitations as to how much you can fit in, and this is often the biggest problem for a filmmaker. There has to be a balance between having a decent amount of plot development while also not trying to cram too much in.
Snake with a Human Tail gets close to balancing this well, but misses the mark slightly.