bsm.jpgBlack Snake Moan advertises itself as a pulpy throwback exploitation movie. There, in its stab at an authentically distressed poster, we have a masterful Samuel L.Jackson towering over a chained up, skimpily dressed Christina Ricci. “Come and see a cautionary tale of the revenge of the black man over his white oppressor via the loss of innocence of this poor chained girl”. Except it is not that simple. Ricci is the promiscuous nymphomaniac, Jackson the religious damaged goods trying to do her a good turn. Except its not that simple. Because like it or not, Jackson does chain her up whilst she wears the skimpiest of hot pants and tank top, she is humiliated and weakened in her imprisonment. Not to mention battered and bruised from the bloke who tried to murder her. Except its not that simple, because behind this self destructive tyke is and abused little lamb.


For all the psychological motivations draped around its characters necks as justification for their odd actions, this is a film which is just its poster. It is Samuel L.Jackson standing over Christina Ricci in hotpants chained to a radiator. Anyone suckered in to this movie by the poster gets exactly the film they want. Sure that person will also get Justin Timberlake having anxiety attacks, but our poster attracted punter KNOWS that any film will have boring bits between his titillation. There is not much more to its two hour running time. Oh, the film affects some sort of affinity with the blues – it is interrupted by clips of some ancient blues guitarist telling us what the blues is. Jackson’s Lazarus is a blues guitarist who has lost his Mojo. But the films understanding of blues seems cock-eyed: Lazarus gets his Blues Mojo back when he gets happier!

Black Snake Moan (even the title suggests titillation) thinks it is quite a clever movie. But perhaps a more shocking, more interesting movie is the one suggested by the poster. In the heart of torture porn season, what would happen if this was an absolute throwback to the kind of racial politics seen in early Hollywood (say Halleluhah!)? The poster suggests violent miscegenation, what you get is semi-violent homilies instead. The Buck (as identified as the aggressive black stereotype) is no more a stereotype than the Uncle Tom that Sam Jackson ends up being. It thinks it is not that simple, it is unfortunately as simple as that. It’s a terrific poster for a film that doesn’t really exist. Could the film it pretends to be actually be made nowadays? I doubt it: but that does not absolve a film from having Ricci in chains, or indeed giving its self destructive characters ridiculous happy endings.