Two Kiwi kids are looking for a fast trip out of mundane suburbia. They’ve cut the roof off an old valiant and are cruising the New Zealand highways, searching for adventure… They’re old enough to know what they’re doing – young enough to get it wrong.
Alice (MELANIE LYNSKEY) is the driving force. She lives in suburban New Zealand. She’d like to live on Route 66. Alice is the classic product of the TV generation. Her ordinary life can’t compare with her celluloid dreams. Her role models are Thelma and Louise. She has no religion, but she believes in the Force. When Alice takes to the road, it is in search of symbols and signs, of fictitious characters and familiar events.
Keeping the car on the ground is Johnny (DEAN O’GORMAN). He’s a law student with a built in requirement for responsibility. But, like Alice, he can’t escape the undercurrent of his generation – he is as frightened as anyone by the prospect of mediocrity.
They’re looking for adventure at all costs… and they get it when their paths cross with an American snake named Seth (BOYD KESTNER). A cowboy with snakeskin boots - he’s a walking myth. He can’t possibly be real…
Seth leads us into a world of New Zealand sub-cultures… the New Zealand you don’t read about in the brochures – an underbelly that’s as twisted as anything the rest of the world can offer.
Seth takes Alice and Johnny on the ride of their dreams... but they soon discover that this sandman is just as capable of delivering nightmares.
Every dream has its price – and in the heart of the Southern Alps these kids are about to pay.
“SNAKESKIN” is an adjective more than a noun. It’s a state of mind,” says Writer/ Director GILLIAN ASHURST. “The film is essentially about taking risks. Our two heroes have grown up watching too much film and television and they’re expecting life to offer them those sorts of adventures.”
“And it’s also about corruption,” says Ashurst, “about loss of innocence. On the surface everything seems so perfect in this place.. but underneath it’s a different story… There’s this famous New Zealand postcard – it’s a couple of spring lambs playing amongst the daffodils. Looks so beautiful. Except we forget where those lambs must inevitably end up. ‘Snakeskin’ is a journey to the flip side of that postcard.”
A seasoned traveler, Ashurst was inspired by “a lot of experiences that I’ve had and characters that I’ve met along the way, both here and abroad. And a love of road movies. I grew up in a similar environment to these kids and the sorts of things they do are exactly the sorts of things my friends and I did when we were growing up. We’d go off in on crazy journeys, waiting to see if things would happen - and sometimes they did.”
Best Film New Zealand Film Awards 2001