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.
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.
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.
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)