Feature film is Cecil Howard’s tool. His ability to create color, passion, dissonance and surreal sexual landscapes comes across on film. We expect overwhelming visual strength from him. When using video, he must make concessions. The very nature of video doesn’t allow for the depth of perception, even if the director shoots the video in the same fashion he would shoot the film, as Howard does.
When he directed the AVN award-winning Dangerous Stuff, Howard created a new niche in the video genre which he hasn’t explored again, until now. With Snake Eyes 2, he expands the supernatural feel of the original film and makes a mini-soap opera, worthy of serious consideration.
Although the passions and confusions of the characters from the original Snake Eyes are intact, they seem a little less serious this time. Maybe it’s because we already know about the neurosis, or maybe the stark contrast to the film segments seem to disrupt the flow. But the story is still heads and tails above most of the other “serious” work being done on video, and Howard never forgets that his feature must turn people on.
Jerry Butler and Laurie Smith reprise their characters in different personae. This time, Butler plays a movie producer, whose love life is on the rocks. He’s a self-indulgent, lonely isolated person whose sexual odysseys run his marriage into a ditch. At no point are we sure that his dalliances are wishful thinking or real. But they do seem real to wife Laurie Smith who forsakes their idyllic monetary trappings for the blue-collar call of Joey Silvera.
Sexually, the characters tear into one another, making for many passionate moments. Butler’s scene with his secretary (Tasha Voux) is well-described when Butler comments “she f***s like a horse.” And Butler’s classic flashback with blonde Rikki Harte only confirms that this one performance captures a wild and visually stunning presence that is desperately needed in this industry.
Cecil Howard is his hardest act to follow. Snake Eyes 2 has already begun its climb up the charts and deservedly so. If you’ve seen enough of his films, you know you’d rather see him make movies. But given the restraints of video, this seems like a great one.