Appraising Year of the Snake comes with a bit of a conundrum: Is it possible to gauge whether something is successful if you can’t even work out what it trying to be achieved?
Watch a few minutes of this webseries and you’ll soon understand the problem. It’s an onslaught. Some may too easily classify it as a “mashup” of sci-fi, horror, slapstick, and Spicoli & Mork buddy comedy, but really it’s more of a genre dump: Every part—including the noise punk soundtrack from band Evasive Backflip—is flagrantly discordant with everything else.
You can take the easy option and just dismiss Nic Collins’ series as garbage or a noisy mess. And indeed when I saw the first episodes a couple of months ago, I did. But it improves. Delving further into the series, the narrative gains some cohesion, and the bombardment of ideas is backgrounded. Absorbing the experience becomes less tiring.
The core setup is an engaging one. Snake (Patrick Lindhorst) has been sent by the enslaver of his planet’s people to kill the “Special One,” a stoner named V (Danny Backer). But the assassin, loving and becoming a product of his new human form, develops an affection for his target.
When the series keeps to its structure, progressing this storyline, it can be quite effective. Sure, some of the jokes miss, and the editing can still be jarring, but there’s something validating about an alien discovering the virtues of humanity. And when that journey is placed front and center, the clowns in showers, female rape gangs, and the flashing Myspace-esque visual palette become secondary and are no longer the compelling impetus to stop watching that they were before.
It’s still a mess. But if there’s a purpose somewhere, that has never been a problem. Year of the Snake spends too long in the thralls of the corybantic, but when it locates its heart it proves to be, at the least, a cool trip.
Screengrab via Year of the Snake/YouTube