writer/director Julius Amedume’s Rattlesnakes tells the story of family man Robert McQueen.
McQueen's typical day takes a turn for the worst when he's ambushed by three masked men, who
accuse him of sleeping with their wives. He pleads his innocence, but faced with being beaten and
tortured, what he reveals will change all of their lives forever – but will it be enough to save his?
A Neo Noir psychological thriller adapted from the acclaimed stage-play by Graham Farrow,
award-winning writer/director Julius Amedume’s ‘RATTLESNAKES’ tells the story Robert
Robert McQueen, a family man and therapist in Los Angeles, has a clientele of exclusively of
well-to-do women. But what begins as a typical day of client meetings and therapy sessions takes a
turn for the worst.
Expecting to meet a regular client in a rented apartment, he’s instead ambushed by three masked men
and held hostage. Now bound and gagged the men want to take McQueen to pieces. Scared and
confused as to why this is happening to him, they eventually let him have a chance to speak, giving
him time to figure out who his kidnappers are.
Eventually their masks come off and his attackers turn out to be the husbands of his most regular
clients, who revengefully accuse him of sleeping with their wives – an assertion he fervently denies,
pleading for his innocence.
In a last ditch, desperate attempt to change the three men’s minds, Robert reveals something else: a
secret, a secret that will change their lives forever – but will it be enough to save his?
Studio: Kew Media
Release Date: April 26 select theaters, May 6 VOD
Runtime: 75 minutes
Director: Julius Amedume
Writer: Julius Amedume, Original play written by Graham Farrow
Producer: Jimmy Jean-Louis
Executive Producers: Nik Powell, Kathleen McClellan, Ian Prior, Greg Osayande Aghaze, Mael Jacques Otaly Sergent, Jack Coleman, Evelyn Jean-Louis.
Cast: Jimmy Jean-Louis, Jack Coleman, Kathleen McClellan, Jay Acovone, Christian Oliver, Rya Kihlstedt and Robinne Lee
Julius Amedume - When I first read the play Rattlesnakes, it instantly resonated and gave me food for thought, in a provocative way. Even though it was written 20 years ago, I could see how it tapped into the Zeitgeist’s of that time period. Times have changed and moved on since then, but the core fundamental questions the play asked about relationships, friendship, marriage, trust, distrust and how well we know our respective partners, family and friends are still very relevant universally and still in the fabric of modern societies today. To me, distrust was at its core and our inability to believe and trust that other people are acting in good faith. How we keep secrets and lies from loved ones and how this information or the fear of this information can ultimately be used against us. How we communicate and deal with our own personal problems and weaknesses within a constructs and confinements of a relationship, with our partners or with family. All of these areas I felt could be explored, dramatically, thematically, and emotionally, whilst exploring these fundamental questions the original play had risen What I also liked about the play was that it was quite self-contained to just one hotel room in England somewhere, with just a handful of characters to tell the story. Immediately I thought the stories set up, and the use of this confined space, could potentially provide good heightened tension, within this environment, and how we could explore the dynamics of the group and possible shifts in power as the situation unfolded. My mind started to think about how well this story could be retold? How it could be modernised, become more entertaining, whilst still staying true to how the original source material, initially made me feel. I decided that resetting the story in America and changing some of the characters and their back- stories would help, as long as the core essence of the story stayed true to the original play. Making McQueen black and setting it in America, was my first choice. By this choice, one could explore stereotypes, negative and positive connotations and add a component of underlying racial tension within film that originally played strongly with marital infidelity. But I felt I had to be careful because I didn’t want it to completely take over the narrative of the film because racism is not what it was fundamentally about. But I liked how this as an underlying current could be suggested and explored subtly. The adoption of genre techniques, aesthetics and conventions helped in retelling the story. I felt making it a Neo Noir Psychological Thriller would articulate the characters more, through the mood, tone and feel, and would help resonate what I wanted the audience to experience and ultimately feel along the way. To me the characters within the piece are not 100% good or bad or right or wrong. They are just lost souls trying to survive whilst looking for answers and deeper connections with trusted people and loved ones through their individual journeys in this life. Characters who often blur the lines, deliberated on their morals, were filled with pride, wanted revenge, were filled with passion and paranoia, were truthful to me. Everyone has a sting in his or her tail once evoked, or if one is trapped in a corner. How they survived within this modern world,
which can be seen as dark or gritty, I also wanted to observe through the lens with a hint of dark
Neo Noirs, which are modern, contemporary renditions of Film Noirs, aesthetically were famed for
their low-key lighting, which interplayed with light and shadows, tilted camera angles and the use of
unbalanced framing. I felt that these attributes suited the tone of the film and would enhance and
heighten the story telling and it’s tension...
Muted colours, the darker tonally range, a constantly moving controlled camera, got me excited.
Using the Mise En Scene to emulate and communicate the emotional intensity would be essential to
telling this character driven story with the varsity and vigor I felt it deserved. Whilst a 240:1 aspect
ratio and anamorphic lenses, would capture the world the people inhabited around them and
regurgitate it back to the audience in a natural, engaging, beautifully artistic but voyeuristic way.