SXSW 2013: ‘Snap’ is a head rocking thriller with a killer score
Directed by Youssef Delara, Victor Teran
Written by Victor Teran
Snap is a psychological thriller that plays like a dubstep song on celluloid. It’s loud, abrasive, with hard cuts, and loud imagery. The film follows Jim Whitman (Jake Hoffman), a musically talented schizophrenic as he traverses an introverted life, trying to keep a darkness inside him at bay. The film charts his struggles to keep the Hyde-like alter personality (Thomas Dekker) at bay as he befriends, and eventually obsesses over, Wendy (Nikki Reed), a caring social worker with demons of her own.
The film starts as typical thrillers do, Jim living a quiet life with just enough darkness boiling underneath. He is content with creating dubstep tracks and uploading them pseudonymously, as long as the one dark voice stays quiet. His music is the one way in which he staves off that part of him. It fills the silence where the dark has the most influence over him. However, when he takes a liking to Wendy, and she reciprocates, he seems to be able to come out of his shell. Then, like the bass drop of an electronic track, things go bad. The flashback scenes that play out Jim’s traumatic reason for his condition is played out like loops of a song while the excellent soundtrack perfectly underscores the ominous nature of this thriller.
Through the central conflict, the film raises many points about the contemporary state of clinical psychology and social work. Through Jim, Wendy, and social worker Kevin (Scott Bakula), the film analyzes many ethical questions on the best way to deal with psychological disorders. The film is at its best when it blends a violent psychological thriller with broad social questions. The audience may feel empathy for Jim’s character to begin with but will find their own ethical views challenged as the film progresses. Unfortunately, by the third act, the film opts for the twist and shock value of standard thriller conventions, muddling up those central questions that made the film so intriguing throughout.
Like many psychological thrillers, Snap is at its best not when it is displaying excessive gore or violence, but when it is exploring the darker fringes of the mind and the societal decisions for dealing with it. The film is energetic, dark, and relentless. Despite its thematically ambivalent and conventional ending, Snap is a thrilling picture that creates suspense and horror from a very real and very difficult source.