Three young adults head out to an empty apartment to be trapped by a spirit. Recognize the synopsis? It’s because it has been used ad nauseum throughout the world of horror. It’s easy to see C.A. Cooper, writer and director of The Snare, had lofty ambitions. An artistic touch can be seen through the movie, loose cinematic connections to The Shining are reached for, but ultimately the movie falls short of any such ambition and in such can’t quite connect on many levels.
The story really is as simple as it sounds: three young adults make a trip for the weekend to an empty apartment. Alice (played by Eaoifa Forward) is a fragile and assuming girl who has been dragged along by her much more rambunctious friend Lizzy (Rachel Warren) and her overly sexual boyfriend Carl (Dan Paton.) Once they get to the apartment, after a party filled, marijuana-fueled evening, the trio discover they are stuck on the top floor with no way down. The elevator is stuck, all phone service is inactive, and the building is otherwise unoccupied. As the days march forward, Alice starts spiraling into a psychosis brought on by recurring nightmares and haunting visions, pushing her mentally to the brink of insanity while the lack of food or water is physically destroying herself and her friends.
The problem is Cooper overreaches. The movie straddles so many genre lines and doesn’t actually hit any on the head that it comes up short in every category. It looks to shock with some mild body horror and highly unnecessary sexual explicitness, it hopes to frighten with a handful of jump scares and wants to tantalize you with deep hidden meanings that are really just scenes that dance around being arthouse cinema. Unfortunately, the movie ends up becoming a muddled imitator that never lives up to any of its influences.
Alice’s nights are interspersed with strange black and white dreams that tease they may or may not be be based on something from her past or possibly her future. It becomes clear early on that Alice has experienced a massively traumatic experience and it continues to plague her and the spirit within the apartment is using that. The issue is that these are never explored.
Lot’s of allusions are made, things are hinted at, but nothing is ever securely confirmed. However, this is not executed in a powerful way. It’s not the end of Inception where the movie has led up to this moment and creates this ambiguous ending that allows you to piece things together. It wants to be. Nothing is ever made clear about the spirit, why it exists, and it’s shoddily thrown into the third act what it’s motivation is. The strange dreams, complete with pupil-less children pointing at a tree in the woods in which Alice hangs herself, are nonsensical and add literally nothing to the continuation of the plot.
The supporting cast are paper thin. They exist purely as pieces to be moved around for Alice’s psychosis to be shown and are ultimately unnecessary. Watching The Snare isn’t necessary because if you’ve seen any amount of horror movies, you’ve probably seen these and even seen it done better.
It’s not a complete waste. It flashes moments of what it could have been. If they had decided to go straight horror, it could have led in a different direction. An elderly ghoul has a few truly haunting moments and the sound design is aces. The Snare’s biggest fault is trying to stand with giants but really, how can you fault someone for trying.