A snare trap is a cable noose that is used to catch wild animals or rabid dogs; viewers will be more familiar with the instrument from their local animal controller. The more the animal resists the tighter the noose gets, cutting into their skin – all they must do is “submit.”
Writer and director C.A. Cooper makes his debut with The Snare, Cooper’s first feature length film. The horror-thriller’s plotline is vague and confusing. What the film is trying to accomplish is unclear and had it been a short film, it may have had a clearer objective. The film’s runtime of 90 minutes easily could’ve been 25-30 minutes. Cooper loads, maybe even overloads, The Snare with meanings beneath meanings. The confusion keeps the viewer on edge and continuously hoping the film will get better, and along with realistic cast performances, appealing cinematography and situationally appropriate makeup, the film is tolerable – keeping it away from the jeering title of The Snore.
The film’s plot follows a woman whose face is warped into a constant state of anxiety, Alice (Eaoifa Forward), her friend Lizzy (Rachel Warren) and Lizzy’s boyfriend Carl (Dan Paton), as they venture to the English countryside to stay at one of Lizzy’s father’s rental properties. Shortly after participating in cliché drunken and drug-entranced shenanigans, the friends find themselves trapped in the building – the elevator is broken down and the building doesn’t have stairs(?), oh, and the hallway doesn’t connect to any other apartments, only the one they are temporarily (or permanently) inhabiting. Who is keeping the three locked in the not-so-ivory tower? I’ve seen the film and still don’t fully understand.
As the central character, Forward gives a realistic performance and viewers will be extremely sympathetic to her character (especially within the first 10 minutes when her father won’t leave the room when she’s changing) but that quickly wanes. Rachel Warren’s Lizzy giggles over 30 times in the first 20 minutes of the film, which becomes both annoying and distracting. Warren only has a handful of lines and after day three or four of the lock-in she mostly lays prostrate on the living room floor for the rest of the film. Paton plays the rape-y scumbag boyfriend well, giving a convincing performance. Special mention to the makeup artist(s) who gave the three near-death skin washouts and a progressively convincing appearance of dehydration and emaciation. Much of the cast’s realism is owed to Cooper who was big on method acting for The Snare – locking his actors in closets for hours on end, holding garbage bags over their faces so they’d gag, making them eat live insects, oh, and actually strangling them near unconsciousness on set (and then using that footage for the final cut in the film!).
Aside from the long, rolling black shots with escalating “scary” music, Cooper’s cinematography background shows through. With sweeping landscape shots of rural England captured by a camera (balanced on the front grill of a car) and low angle shots, Cooper clearly knows his “rule of thirds.” The shots are largely artistically captured and aesthetically pleasing. Cooper uses inventive angles throughout the film. These include shots that look as if Alice is being spied on, and shots from behind or within walls, glass, or even out of toilets.
The film falls into the horror genre due to its disgusting realism rather than any supernatural forces, and deals with sexual abuse, psychological trauma and life-and-death scenarios. Unfortunately it’s difficult for viewers to engage with any one these themes. Frustration with the characters’ inability to escape the building for weeks, and their lack of attempts to do so, becomes unbearable. They quickly succumb to last-resort survival techniques when they haven’t even tried dropping to the nearest balcony(?). They’re stuck on about the fifth story of the building, balconies jetting from each floor, and seem to act more like woe-is-me Rapunzels than people on the verge of death.
The Snare has redeeming elements, and its true calling is perhaps a slightly ambiguous short film. The film wasn’t good but it isn’t forgettable.
The Snare was released On Demand on January 6, 2017. Coming to select theaters January 13, 2017.