China White Serpentine
(aka Tales Of Bloody Serpents)
Directed by Eric Stanze and Robin Garrels
Written by Eric Stanze and Robin Garrels
Starring DJ Vivona, Eli Degeer, Amanda Booth
and Jason Allen Wolfe
Running Time 70 minutes
China White is not your average flick by any means. I was really excited to see it on the list of choices at The Movie & Music Network as its one that can be a bit more difficult to find. Its a film that falls into the category of true indie horror films, making it less known to the average fan, and much less accessible. I jumped at the chance to watch and review this one. I have been a fan of Stanzes work since I first stumbled across him as a writer on the now defunct Fearnet (RIP) website, and began my personal education on his film offerings. He is a bit of a leader in the indie circles and has won multiple awards for his directing.
Some would debate as to whether this title is really even in the horror genre, but if you are familiar with the sub genres of our beloved umbrella term "Horror" you will be aware of this ones place. China White Serpentine plays out like an experimental film in many aspects. It kept making me think of the old cult films by Coffin Joe, with some very strong, almost modern psychedelic tones. But before I get too far ahead of myself let me give you a bit on the movie itself.
Dave (DJ Vivona), has recently lost his brother Trent (Jason Allen Wolfe) and is struggling to put the pieces together behind the bloody death. While at home he receives a knock on the door, upon opening it he sees his dead brother with a disc in hand. Dave calls his sister and tells her that Trent is trying to tell them something. Worried that her remaining brother is in trouble she and her girlfriend take to the roads on a trip to see him, but not before Dave puts on the DVD, where he is greeted by Beth (Eli Degeer) who begins to tell him the twisted seedy tale of his brother end... Will his sister make it in time to save have from the same fate as Trent, or is all hope lost for this family?
It sounds fairly straight forward right? Well not really, the film plays out in a series of drug induced flashbacks, accompanied by pumping electronic music that often leaves you feeling frenzied, confused and a bit dirty. Stanze and Garrels do a wonderful job of making the viewer feel the drug induced sexual frenzy, and just overall highs and lows of the addiction faced by the people in our tale. They use a wide variety of filming techniques, changing tempo, color palettes, and angels to help pull you into the seedy world experienced by Trent and Beth. Those sequences made me think back to the Coffin Joe films of the past and were very effective in pulling you into this weird wild tale.
Eli Degeer (Beth) is asked to perform at a high level in this film, and she delivers beautifully. She and Jason Allen Wolfe steal the show with their strong performances. They are raw, emotional, and often gripping in their portrayals, I was very impressed with both of actors, they truly made the film!
This is not a gore film, its a contemplative dramaesque film, that crosses genres into horror with its real life struggles, bloody consequences and strange back story. Its not a film to throw on to scare the kids, its definitely adult orientated with full frontal nudity, graphic sex scenes, and drug use scenes. One of the things I found interesting is although there are numerous sequences drenched in raw drug frenzied sex, the film didn't feel gratuitous sexually. It felt dirty, yes but I believe it is supposed to, because of our characters circumstances, that in itself is pretty brilliant and goes to the directors credit. The gore is limited, however the scenes where we have our blood shed moments are visually pretty solid, and some are very powerful.
All in all this one is a roller coaster ride and like roller coasters either you love them, and can't get enough or you don't. China White Serpentine is a film that fans of underground indie, experimental, or psychedelic films will really enjoy. Its thoughtful, emotional and weird, it requires active participation from the viewer in terms of attention and thought. If that isn't your bag, then this one probably wont be for you, but if it is... Well then this one will rank with some of the greats!
I do have to tell everyone who checks this one out to watch the film in its entirety, it is not done once the end credits role. Stay in your seat and keep watching folks because after credits your given a few extra minutes that truly do explain and tie the film all together, with out those extra minutes you will walk away with some unresolved lingering questions.
For a limited time you can watch this awesome indie title courtesy of The Horror Nation and The Movie & Music Network, just click on the Movie art at the top of this review and you will be redirected to the movie absolutely FREE! So pop some corn, settle in and enjoy!!