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The Serpent Review: The crimes of Serial killer Charles Sobhraj

The recently released crime-drama series “The Serpent” has received positive and negative as parallel as it could be. This eight-episode miniseries is a biopic of Charles Shobraj, an underreported murderer of the ’70s as he befriends his target to get their trust, drugs, rob and takes their passport to use for their next destination. 

Released on Jan 1, 2021, to Feb 14, 2021 “the Serpent” is now streaming on Netflix for you to watch. Here’s the trailer.

What is The Serpent about?

The Serpent revolves around a story of a man, rather serial killer from the 1970’s Charles Shobraj, an Indo-Vietnamese civilian who killed at least 12 people by befriending, drugging, robbing them, and used their passports to decide their next destination.

Initially seen in The Mauritian, we witness Tahar Rahim as Charles Shobraj accompanied by Monique (Jenna Coleman) and Ajay (Amesh Edireweera) who are equally involved in this whole crime series. Skip it or watch it? Let’s find that out.

The Serpent serial killer Charles Sobhraj Real life photo

It’s certainly well-scripted particularly since “all dialogue is improvised” as the film avers. The wide-angle shots of the locations, presumably segments of the Hippie Trail of the 60s-70s, are beautiful, too.

But, more than anything else, the storyline is gripping. The frequent shifts in timeline might be jarring and thus irritating to the viewer but with a little bit more attention, the film turns out to be a great story with all the pieces falling into place in the end.” said one of the reviewers.

The Serpent Review

Set in the ’70s in South Asia, is a place where the “westerners” visit to tourist the places around went missing without much notice. Hence, we meet Charles Shobraj who is an absolute sociopath but the mastermind of these missing people.

He’s known to be a serial killer as his only task is to drug these tourists, rob them, murder if required, and steal their passports for the next destination.

The show starts with an interesting storyline as the first two episodes describe the series of action, the crimes being committed, how one crime led to the other, a dutch diplomat trying to uncover the missing suspects, everything happening in parallel, and much in sync. We get to know more about Shobraj is a sharp and ambitious man. 

The Serpent Review The crimes of serial killer Charles Sobhraj

Bangkok in 1975: The movie starts at a party where Shobraj is in disguise as a gem dealer, Alain Gautier, while he goes back to the time of a robbery incident that happened in Delhi that got him arrested where he met his partner in crime, Marie-Andrée Leclerc.

The scene comes back to the present where the other characters are introduced and we also meet Knippenberg, a dutch diplomat trying to uncover the murders of Shobraj and get him arrested.

We also get to see an insight into Shobraj’s past, incidents of him robbing and murdering, where he’s not the psychopath who’s just killing people to be happy but that he finds that it’s the only way to get things easily done. 

The Serpent Review The crimes of serial killer Charles Sobhraj

The murder scenes might look a bit depressing overall but the scenes at the moment look opportunistic. We also see an act of revenge in his eyes when he says “Since I was 15, I was denied everything”.

Tahar Rahim has brought this character to life like nothing else, while we see him as this cold-stone psychic guy, we also meet Knippenberg, who’s the only good guy in the lot, trying to do the right things but either he lands up into major trouble or loses the game. We could see a cool Tom and Jerry thing happening between Charles and Knippenberg that keeps us held.

Conclusion

The setting of the ’70s is something to applaud. Getting that vintage old school city vibe of different countries, Bangkok, Delhi, Bombay, Hong Kong, and Paris of the 70’s aesthetic is magic.

you might feel a bit disturbed by the murder sequences and the awful accents of the characters( in some places) overall is a good series to give a one-time watch.

The Serpent is a limited 8th episode series where the initial episodes seem to be interesting and gripping but the aesthetic loosens as we move forward. The back in forth of the timezone might also look irritating but it has a strong storyline.

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