Gruesome Reviews

“Serpent’s Lullaby” (2014): Elegantly Macabre Horror Short Probes the Anguish Behind a Monster

 

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Director’s Patricia Chica’s short horror film Serpent’s Lullaby is – like its main character – elegant, lovely, macabre, and filled with mystique. Like the great monster films of yesteryear, it shows the humanity within its tragic lead character and the anguish that even a soulless creature can harbor.

Jenimay Walker stars as a mysterious woman (revealing the character’s name here would mean giving away a major spoiler) living in opulence in a mansion where snakes and scorpions also run freely. As the film opens, she is caring for a baby when something tragic suddenly occurs. Viewers then discover exactly what a peculiar-looking formation of rocks and roses truly is, and it is a rather heartbreaking reveal – one of several in Serpent’s Lullaby.

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Jenimay Walker (left) stars as an enigmatic woman whose sudden presence makes a young mother (Annabella Hart) justifiably uncomfortable in Patricia Chica’s short film Serpent’s Lullaby.

We then see a young mother (Annabella Hart) out for a stroll with her young baby in a large park. The woman from the mansion shows up, looking particularly overdressed for a leisurely walk in her sophisticated black ensemble. The two women have some awkward verbal exchanges against a background of lush green trees and foliage that contrast the stone mansion seen before. The woman returns home to the crib seen in the opening moments, and what lies behind her is then revealed.

Serpent’s Lullaby goes for character study and psychological insight into its main character rather than for shocks or jump scares. It is absolutely successful in this as it slowly reveals layers of information. The film, written by Charles Hall, establishes a somber tone and sets viewers up to anticipate certain events, then marvelously offers unexpected surprises.

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A statue bearing a gold ring is one of the many puzzles to be unlocked on the lead character’s resplendent property.

Patricia Chica’s work here is outstanding. Her visuals find beauty among the bleak and I found a Hammer Film Productions and grand European horror feel to Serpent’s Lullaby. Fog, torches, and other gothic visual touches mesh perfectly with Sean O’Bryan Smith’s gorgeous score, with its cymbals and chiming bells, and classical piano. With this framework established, dialog such as “He has his mother’s eyes . . . turquoise, like a lagoon in the red sea” further builds the world Chica creates here.

The sound design – performed by Patricia Chica (www.PatriciaChica.com) and Michael Legedza – gives important clues to viewers and provides some foreshadowing. The art department and visual effects department  both perform masterful jobs, including on the statues that are an important part of the mansion and story.

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The main character of Serpent’s Lullaby has much to be pensive about, and Jenimay Walker brings her to vivid life.

Jenimay Walker gives a fine performance as she embodies the often stoic main character with melancholy and grace. Annabella Hart as the mother who is alarmed by Walker’s strange character is also impressive in her role.

Serpent’s Lullaby holds many subtle flourishes and strange charms that may not all be caught on a first watch. That’s no problem, as this short film warrants repeated viewings, along with my highest recommendations.

Serpent’s Lullaby: (4.5 / 5)

SERPENT'S LULLABY POSTER

Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
Joseph Perry
Joseph Perry’s formative years were spent watching classic monster movies (starting with "The Creature from the Black Lagoon" and "Godzilla Vs. the Thing") and TV series (starting with "The Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits"), Bob Wilkins’ "Creature Features" and Roy Shires’ Big Time Wrestling (two northern California legends); reading Silver Age and Bronze Age Gold Key, Dell, Charlton, Marvel, and DC comics; and writing mimeographed newsletters about the original "Planet of the Apes" film and TV series. More recently, he has written for "Filmfax" magazine, is the foreign correspondent reporter for the "Horror News Radio" podcast, and is a regular contributing writer to "Phantom of the Movies’s VideoScope" magazine, occasionally proudly co-writing articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.
http://tastethemilkofchocula.blogspot.kr/