The Snare‘s biggest problem (among MANY), is that stakes are never defined. Creator C.A. Cooper introduces three (hollow) characters, a seaside vacation setting and a conflict. No backstory or forward thinking, just a situation where horrors will presumably present themselves. Imagine being told “this is a horror movie, and it is meant to scare you,” without having any proof of concept. Not exactly the rousing introduction you’d hope for, but at least expectations are set early – and even then, they’re barely met.
Eaoifa Forward stars as Alice Clarke, a girl who’s first seen packing a suitcase. Her father (?) walks into the room and asks a few questions, but before long, she’s driving in a car with friends Lizzy (Rachel Warren) and Carl (Dan Paton). Then, after some piggish “Would You Rather?” questions from Carl, the gang arrives at a vacant holiday apartment complex where they’re going to party irresponsibly.
Supplies are purchased, an elevator brings them up and the drinking begins, but when one of the crew tries to go downstairs the following morning, it’s discovered that their elevator won’t come. This leaves them trapped and alone, on the top of a building where no one is supposed to be. Too bad there’s a “malevolent spirit” watching their every move (which is never explained), who begins to worsen Alice’s condition (because she scribbles suicidal words in a journal). Will they escape? Probably not.
And even if they do, what are they escaping from?
This is what makes The Snare such a bugger to watch. Everything happens like we’re clued into satanic backstories or dark histories. As the film presses onward, flashbacks depict sexual abuse in Alice’s life while current hallucinations show glassy-eyed children and creepy old ladies. Do they have names or representation? No, they’re just “The Ghoul” or “Forest Child,” without any connection to location, characters or significance. Half the film plays like B-roll that other horror movies left on the chopping-room floor, now recycled to build a paranormal infestation with absolutely zero motivation. Here are humans, here are ghosts and here are some spooky images – BOO, YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH.
The story itself feels tremendously inconsequential, because we know there’s something wrong with Alice, but issues just keep piling up. Ghosts somehow manipulate her memories, yet Carl and Lizzy seem immune to recurring nightmares. As Alice unhinges, Carl and Lizzy pull back – Lizzy more so as she all but disappears during the second act. We can chalk it up to physical weakness, since water and food cannot be scouted for, but even with that reasoning, Cooper fails to convey how much time is actually passing. A calendar is briefly shown with tons of “Xs” over days, but before then, guesstimations pollute the nature of each character’s wellbeing. There are just SO many damn questions floating around this movie – Who? Why? When? How? WTF?!
As for Cooper’s horror elements, most of the scares are faceless and timid. Alice’s first bout of night terrors is actually the best, because – while nonsensical – ominous tones marry with an ending shot that cuts sensuality with forced sexual aggression. We think Carl and Alice might be getting freaky, only to then cut to a nameless senior citizen with her hand down Alice’s throat. Admittedly, it’s a chilling sight – but movies are not built on one lone scare. The remaining scenes keep introducing new apparitions from Alice’s past (I THINK?!), without any clues besides writing on the wall. So much of The Snare is silent, and we suffer from a severe underdevelopment of ideas, personality and plot.
Without meaning, some of Cooper’s nastiest material ends up conveying dirtiness without context. I’m not talking about Carl eating maggot-infested chicken either, or fake blood. More the random rape scene after Carl goes absolutely bat-shit crazy, because what else are you going to do after being locked up so long? I guess that’s the logic here? AGAIN, I CAN’T TELL YOU. We know he’s attracted to sister-fucking fantasies, which is one of the few bits of information we’re actually given – but the sexual assault feels like heartless, ill-intended exploitation. Absolutely, 100% unnecessary. It’s grim, disconnected hatred that has no impact, except leaving an even nastier taste in horror fan’s mouths. This is what happens when you lack substance or meaning, and force evil, vile shit without conveyed intent.
The more I think about The Snare, the more frustrating it becomes. There’s no setup, no tease and certainly no payoff. Just an apartment and some victims. Villainy for the hell of it, if you will. It’s a ghost story that assumes you’ll just pick things up as you go, except there’s nothing to grasp. Just an unstructured ghost story. That’s it. I can’t even describe it further. It is just a ghost story – and unfortunately, a movie needs to be more than a mess of generics with no direction.
The Snare is so without substance that you might not even remember watching it.