Poison (2023) Movie Review – Another delightfully dark Dahl adaptation

Another delightfully dark Dahl adaptation

The Roald Dahl collection is back and this time it’s the turn of Poison, an imaginative and darkly amusing short that brings together the talents of Dev Patel, Benedict Cumberbatch, Ralph Fiennes and Ben Kingsley. The story is simple, but the way this tale is told, and the very clever camera work and sound design accompanying it, really helps elevate this to new heights.

For those unaware, Poison was written by Roald Dahl in January 1950. One of the central characters, Woods, is named after a fellow RAF Squadron 80 pilot who was killed during the Battle of Athens. Serving as the central anchor to the tale, Woods narrates a strange story involving a man stuck in bed called Harry.

Unfortunately, a poisonous snake (a Krait no less) has decided to sleep on Harry’s stomach, rendering him powerless to move in case he gets bitten. Given these snakes are infamous for delivering one of the most lethal venoms, it falls to Dr. Ganderbai to come over and find a solution.

The narrative moves quickly, and across the 15 minute run-time, Wes Anderson uses all the tricks in his repertoire to make this a visual spectacle. That familiar theatre-production feel is here in abundance, with some clever camera work and excellent sound design.

During one particularly memorable segment, Woods rushes to the phone and the camera pans to the right, showing off a new part of the set. As Woods talks to Ganderbai, the sound flickers from the left to the right speakers. Another time, the light changes slightly to spotlight on Ganderbai as he takes center stage, rather than previously focusing on Woods and Harry in the background. These moments are just a few that stand out but they highlight the visual prowess of this short.

Poison is arguably the most visually creative of all the short films released in this Roald Dahl collection. The dialogue is snappy, the visual and sound design excellent, and the story is simple but layered, allowing food for thought when the story comes to a close. This one’s another winner.

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  • Verdict - 8/10

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