The H-Bomb: According to ancient Indian legend, Nagin is a deadly snake goddess who holds within her body the key to immortality. If her mate is threatened or harmed, she will hunt down and take vengeance on whoever is responsible, and will in all likelihood claim the lives of at least a few innocent bystanders along the way. Not only is an evil American by the name of… wait for it… George States, fully aware of this, he is actually counting on it, as he is dying of a brain tumor and has kidnapped Nagin’s mate in hopes of drawing her out so he can get at this immortal what-have-you that’s inside of her.
Well, his plan works, as Nagin takes the form of a hot naked woman (Mallika Sherawat) and goes in search of her captive mate. Along the way, she encounters a few uncouth individuals who would love nothing more than to rape her. So, she is forced to teach these hooligans a lesson in manners by eating them up and puking them out. This, predictably, attracts the attention of local police inspector Gupta (Irrfan Khan), who is understandably baffled by these crimes. However, Gupta’s batty old mother in law, as well as some other superstitious locals, begin to suspect that it’s the work of the serpent goddess.
Will the snake woman rescue her mate from the evil George States, or will she fall into his trap? Will Gupta the cop catch her before she can, or won’t he? Who’s to say? The real question is… will the audience still be awake at the end to find out, and if so, will they care? The answer to both: not bloody likely.
“Hisss”, shot on location in India, is the third directorial effort from my favorite nepotistic filmmaker, Jennifer Chambers Lynch. Ms. Lynch and I have crossed paths in the past when I reviewed her hilariously horrible debut “Boxing Helena”, as well as her decent sophomore effort, “Surveillance”, which was far, far from perfect, but overall a step in the right direction. With her latest film, she ditched Hollywood for Bollywood, and has slithered all the way back down to “Helena”‘s level of utter awfulness.
Basically, “Hisss” is a B-grade creature feature. You would expect a filmmaker from the Lynch family gene pool to take this myth and spin it into something creepy and cool… or at least weird, in a good way. But no, she made a plain old monster movie, the kind that airs on the Syfy Channel during one of their snake themed weekend movie marathons. It’s the kind of movie that’s meant to be stupid fun, except here Lynch made it extra stupid, and skipped the fun all together in favor of sheer boredom.
One thing she did manage to nail is the look of a Syfy Original movie, in that it looks spectacularly cheap. Not cheap in a cool, indie film kind of way, but cheap in that bad, direct-to-DVD way, complete with a laughably shoddy CGI snake monster that looks like it was ripped from a mid-90′s video game. The snakes in that Samuel L. Jackson movie were more convincing. As for the cinematography, you may think it impossible to make such a colorful place as India look drab and dreary, but Lynch somehow manages to make it look about as vibrant as London on a gray winter day.
Setting aside that the film is about as visually appealing as a dried dog turd, and that the special effects are only special in the short bus sense of the word, there’s also the putrid script to take into account, which features maybe ten minutes worth of clunky, uninspired action, and spends the rest of its eighty-something minutes wasting our time with bad drama and unfunny attempts at quirky humor until it finally gets to its awkwardly staged, and not-even-remotely thrilling climax.
Is there anything at all that sets “Hisss” apart from other hokey creature features? There is, actually, in that it is, to my knowledge, the first and only movie to feature a snake-on-human sex scene. A little Hisss, Hisss, Bang, Bang, if you will. Leave it to the daughter of David Lynch to come up with that one… and also leave it to her to make even that boring.
As for the acting, Sherawatt isn’t half bad, considering she doesn’t have a single line of dialogue in the film. But, given the quality of the dialogue, that probably worked in her favor. She’s required to look sexy and dangerous, and she pulls off both. Khan, who plays the police inspector, you may remember from “Slumdog Millionaire”, in which he played… a police inspector. Way to cast against type there, Jennifer! Anyway, he does okay, but he was better in “Slumdog”.
As the evil American George States (wow, really Jenn, really?), Jeff Doucette is over-the-top and cringingly terrible, but I blame that more on the writing than him. In a well written script, he would have been a good man forced to do bad things out of desperation. But, that would have required a little more thought than Lynch was willing to put into it, so instead he’s just a one note mustache twirler who is all dastardly and villainous… just because he is
Is there anything positive that can be said about “Hisss”? Well, the snake-woman makeup effects by Robert Kurtzman are pretty impressive, I’ll give it that. Unfortunately, that very faint praise is all the praise I have, because bottom line, “Hisss” is pisss poor. It truly sucksss asss, and while it was apparently taken away from Ms. Lynch and re-cut by others, it still bears her name, and I can’t see how a good film could ever be made from the footage I saw, so she is still to blame for it being the piece of ssshit that it is.
However, if you do feel inexplicably compelled to see “Hisss”, it is currently available on Netflix Instant Play. But seriously, why would you, when there are so many more productive things for you to do with your time… like pulling the wings off a fly, or checking your lawn for severed ears, or about a million other things.