Serpent begins with a woman, ending her extramarital affair with a colleague and to runaway from her lover, decides to join her entomologist husband during his research trip searching for an elusive beetle for conservation purposes. But they find more than they bargained for in the horror film by Amanda Evans. The film stars Sarah Dumont and Tom Ainsley as Gwyneth and Adam.
Congrats on Serpent being chosen as the opening film at DIFF, especially since this is your first film.
It’s really wonderful, especially since it was a complete surprise. I didn't even know that the film was being considered for DIFF and for it to open the festival? It’s fantastic. We worked on this film very quickly. It was in development from 2012 and then everything stopped, as things do with film productions sometimes. Then in 2015, Greig Buckle (producer) called me up, we decided on a date to start production and we didn’t look back. So it’s really great to not only be included in the programme, but to open the festival.
The film had its world premiere at the LA Film Festival a few weeks ago and won the Nightfall Award. Does that bode for the film, winning awards almost immediately after it’s release?
I think so, yes. It’s a genre prize and Serpent winning it, does mean a great accolade for us.
So what’s the story with Serpent?
It’s really about- and this fascinated me- about how evil we can become and what sort of things trigger our demons. It’s about this couple who are going through marital problems and will have to confront each other in this confined space, in the presence of a deadly black mamba.
I get an Adam and Eve original sin vibe from it- was that intentional?
Well that’s just it. It’s a Genesis story, but a modern take on it. But in all of this, the snake is not the evil character here, even though it’s an apex predator. The evil shifts between the three of them- the snake Adam and Gwyneth.
The snake is as much a character as it is a thread in the story- Gwyneth is a ‘snake’ because she betrayed Adam and he in turn becomes a ‘snake’, because he’s ready to attack Gwyn because of what she did. Was that the running theme of the film?
It was the root of it, yes. Hence the title, Serpent.It was a play on nature, really, especially human nature and how we react to different circumstances we find ourselves in. It was a play on how flawed we all are and how we try to keep it together, sometimes to our detriment. The moment that Adam finds out about Gwyneth’s betrayal and how he handles that and the effect the way he deals with it, taking into consideration that they are trapped in this tent with the deadliest snake.
Chipo Zhou of DIFF, called it one of the best love stories she’s seen in recent years. Is it a love story?
(Laughs) I guess it is a love story- a tragic one though.
It’s rare for a thriller that borders on horror, to open a film festival. Will the film lovers enjoy it?
I think they will. It’s not a usual choice, yes, but I think that people are drawn to genre films and Serpent is the definition of a genre film. I think it appeals to both the art house and commercial markets, because of the story and the way it was shot and how it leaves you at the edge of your seat. They will definitely get a rush when watching this film.