RattleSnake (2019) netflix Movie Review

It’s the last Friday in October, and that means it’s time to watch Rattlesnake, the fifth and final Netflix original movie for the streaming service’s “Netflix and Chills” horror slate. Unlike the last three films—In the Shadow of the Moon, Fractured, and Eli—there is no big Rattlesnake plot twist. But that doesn’t mean the Rattlesnake ending isn’t confusing. If anything, the lack of twist ending—and indeed lack of any real ending—makes it more confusing.

We’ll get into that, but first, some context: Rattlesnake, more of a mystery thriller than a horror film, comes from writer/director Zak Hilditch (1922, These Final Hours). Carmen Ejogo (True Detective, Fantastic Beasts) stars as Katrina Ridgeway, a young mother driving across the country with her daughter Clara (Apollonia Pratt). When they get a flat tire in the middle of the desert, Clara is bitten by a rattlesnake. Desperate, Katrina knocks on the door of a nearby mobile home. Inside, a mysterious woman (Debrianna Mansini) assures Katrina that she can help, and adds, “We’ll discuss payment later.”

After changing her tire, Katrina rushes Clara to the nearest hospital, where the doctors say Clara looks just fine—far too fine to have been bitten by a rattlesnake. Katrina is relieved but confused until another mysterious figure appears. He tells Katrina that in order to repay the debt of sparing her daughter’s life, she must kill someone before sunset. That’s easier said than done. Every time Katrina fails, she is harassed by a new mysterious figure/ghost who tells her to get on with it, already.

Rattlesnake - Apollonia Pratt, Carmen Ejog
Netflix / John Golden Britt

WHAT IS THE RATTLESNAKE PLOT TWIST?

Sorry to disappoint, but there is no big plot twist at the end of Rattlesnake. Instead, the movie just sort of peters out, offering no real explanation for what was going on. Let’s get into it.

HOW DOES RATTLESNAKE END?

Warning: This gets quite dark and graphic.

Katrina decides to kill a man named Billy (played by Sons of Anarchy‘s Theo Rossi) after she witnesses him abusing his girlfriend in a bar. She follows him, breaks into his home, kidnaps Billy at gunpoint, and forces him to drive them both out to the desert. Unfortunately, once out there, Billy gets away. Katrina decides to kill herself instead, ready to sacrifice herself for her daughter. She makes a video suicide note on her phone, but before she has the chance to kill herself, she is knocked out by Billy. When she wakes up, Billy has her at gunpoint. She attempts once again to kill herself, this time by pressing a knife to her throat. She starts to slice, but before she gets very far, a snake scares Billy and he falls off a cliff. He is severely injured, but not quite dead. Katrina, realizing that she can use Billy as her sacrifice after all, climbs down the rocks, and slits his throat just as the sun is setting.

As Katrina walks out of the desert, she sees all the people who have been badgering her about this whole sacrifice thing. She lights Billy’s truck on fire, and runs away. The doctor calls Katrina to let her know her daughter is totally fine. Katrina picks up her daughter from the hospital, and everything is fine. Oh, except for the fact that Katrina’s daughter drew a picture of a woman standing in the desert in black crayon. And that once back on the road, both Katrina and her daughter see a hitchhiker that looks exactly like Billy. Then, finally, the movie ends.

DOES THE RATTLESNAKE ENDING MAKE SENSE? WHAT IS THE RATTLESNAKE ENDING MEANING?

That’s the question, isn’t it? Rattlesnake was an enjoyable film when you assumed the ghosts who are obsessed with Katrina repaying her debt were going somewhere, and then they just… don’t. Billy’s appearance as a hitchhiker vaguely hints that the ghosts are dead-humans-turned-grim-reapers—like in the short-lived but very enjoyable Bryan Fuller show, Dead Like Me—but unlike Dead Like Me, that is never explicitly explained. Why can Katrina’s daughter see the grim reapers (if that is what they are) at the end of the film? Did she die too? Does that mean Katrina died? Are they going to be haunted forever, or…? Again, no explanation. Oh, well. Onto the next Netflix original.

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