THE SNAKE’S KISS GOOD-BYE Image

There’s nothing like a scenario based on a white boy’s fantasy. Here an ethnically ambiguous young woman (Asian? Latino?…and part Mediterranean? – the “type” exploited in recent print advertising) approaches a young white couple and breaks things up by kissing the guy. For all you fellas who want a semi-exotic girl to appear solely for your pleasure, even to the detriment of whichever girl is currently by your side, this opening is a slice of wet dream for you. But as with most of the young Shane Ryan’s films, anything surreal must turn into a nightmare. We’re shoved through a quick and angry twist right when you think this kid will wake from his daydream.

“The Snake’s Kiss Good-bye” strives for a tone that the title’s poetical rhythm offers, but follows the familiar structure of the writer/director’s other shorts: action and reaction. And as is the case here, too often the formula overweighs any sense of narrative or suspense. While Ryan uses this technique in his more successful “So, We Killed Our Parents,” the revenge-fantasy climax offers enough guilty fun to move things forward. Similarly, his seriously disturbing feature “Amateur Porn Star Killer,” a blend of pseudo-documentary porn and snuff, relies on a similar structure, yet intrigues through our undeniable curiosity for both subjects. This call-and-response nature points to Ryan’s resourceful but counterproductive habit of editing scraps from a failed larger project into various short films, which is the origin of “Snake’s Kiss.” If this project were the original focus of the shoot, then perhaps Ryan could have improved this fragmentary short that offers more of a plot summary than a narrative.

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