Levi (Kevin Geezil) is a gambler with a troubled past whose latest failed bet, and lack of funds, means he’s in line for a severe ass-kicking from the local loan shark (Scott Nadeau). Resigned to his violent fate, Levi crosses paths with Holy Sister (Stacie L. Seid), who is going door-to-door preaching the gospel, specifically the ideas pertaining to the acceptance of the Holy Spirit leading to the exorcism of demons, the healing of the sick, protection from poison and deadly snakes and speaking in tongues. Lost and open to anything, Levi allows Holy Sister to practice her faith with him.
James Ristas’ Jehovah’s Cobras plays out almost like an experimental film, but that’s more due to the interpretation of imagery and the editorial style than the narrative itself. For the most part, it’s pretty straightforward. Whether Levi’s demons are real or metaphorical, he is certainly haunted by his past, and it has set him up for his seemingly imminent downfall.
On a technical level, I appreciated the look and style of the piece. I’ll admit the majority of the style is created by using film stock, which immediately sets the film apart from most conventional and common shorts nowadays, but the imagery and editorial choices only enhance its creative choices. Moments play like a fever dream, and it’s impressive what can be achieved on a technical level when a film is forced to work with more practical means (and when the cinematographers know what they’re doing).
Whether you take what you see from Levi’s experience with Holy Sister as literal is your own business. I looked at it as a creative, and obviously cinematic, interpretation of a life-changing moment. Whether what you see is precisely what is happening is irrelevant. For Levi, he’s seeing demons, he’s surviving poisons and he’s coming out the other side a new man.
But that is my interpretation, and it’s up to the audience how they want to take, or not take, what they’re seeing. You could dismiss the tale outright; conversation about religious faith isn’t always the easiest to stomach anyway. For me, though, I found the conversation, as it is presented here, to be an interesting one, even for its more fantastical elements.
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