If you ask a hundred people why they fell in love with Snakes on a Plane during those heady days last summer, you'd get a hundred different reasons, but every one of them would come back to the title.

Snakes on a Plane. It's really quite a perfect title. You knew from the moment you first heard it - everybody knew - whether or not you were going to see it. Simply put, there are two kinds of people: those who want to see Samuel L. Jackson fight snakes on a plane, and those who do not.

If you look around, you'll probably find that most of the title's fans love it ironically. I am not one of those people. I love Snakes on a Plane for it's sheer and uncorrupted honesty.

Here's the thing about creature pictures: the B-Film True Believer knows that by and large, most b-films are terrible. And a significant, even primary part of the joy of watching terrible monster movies is the chance to make fun of them. But this is the case not just for the True Believer, but also for the Ironist and the Post-Modernist. What separates the True Believer is that there's a tiny kernel that cannot be dislodged or ignored that deeply and sincerely loves the monster. It doesn't matter if the monster is a work of art as in King Kong, or if it is a collection of tubing and felt and ping-pong ball eyes, as in The Horror of Party Beach. Heaven help us, it can even be Ro-Man. Deep down inside, we love creatures. We love them because someone tried to make something convincing out of felt and ping-pong balls and prayer. We love them because even at their worst, creatures are an affirmation that sometimes, the audience wants and the filmmaker provides movies as sheer spectacle. This is why there are so many Sci-Fi channel movies, and why the people who complain loudest about how dreadful they are are the ones who inevitably watch every single one of them.

To me, Snakes on a Plane is the apotheosis of that idea. It recognises that the draw of a creature film is not the plot, nor the editing, nor the director, nor the characters. It is the creature. It is the creature, and if locked in combat with a certified badass like Samuel L. Jackson, so much the better. I hear the title and I know the film is saying this to me: "you want to see snakes on a plane. You don't care how they got there. You don't care how they are destroyed. You just want to see them attacking people in snakey ways, and you want Samuel L. Jackson to be a badass to them."

I did not go to Snakes on a Plane because I wished to laugh at a terrible movie. I went to Snakes on a Plane because I wanted to see snakes on a plane. I went purely for the Cinema of Attraction - the type of filmmaking that was dead by 1910 and somehow managed to never fall out of favor after that. It is cinema as spectacle, scenes that are impressive because they are impressive. It is the stripping away of the cinematic moment from any consideration of plot or narrative. It is watching snakes bite people in innovative ways without caring why they are biting people.

In the hands of the Bruckheimers & and Bays of the world, this results in the wasteland of modern Hollywood cinema, soulless exercises in stringing setpieces along a weak plot. Snakes on a Plane acknowledges that it has no plot before the film begins, before the lights go down, before you are in the theater. From the moment you first heard its title you knew that it had no plot. This is the key reason why Snakes on a Plane is different from every other empty late-summer blockbuster.

Titles signify. This is the key lesson of the Year of Snakes on a Plane. The title is not and has never been a mere ornament; it is a part of the text of a narrative, and should be treated as an interpretable element of a film. Never before this year have so many people been aware of that fact. Snakes on a Plane is not the same film as Flight 121, even though they would be identical except for a single title card. The film we have been received looks its audience square in the eye and tells us that it knows what we desire and it will provide that to us. This is why I refuse to buy into the "Wikipedia filmmaking" argument, or join in the chorus of those who proclaim this to be the end of films as a contained product and the birth of choose-your-own-adventure moviegoing. Snakes on a Plane is a rare and unique moment in film. It cannot be copied; for the type of people to see movies about snakes on planes are very good at spotting ripoffs. It is an organic and accidental product. It was not marketed, but adopted by the people who felt that a film about snakes on a plane called Snakes on a Plane would be worth seeing. And because a film called Snakes on a Plane will only be seen by those who wish to see snakes on a plane, the film was being tailor-made for its audience long before Samuel L. Jackson was called in for re-shoots to use the word "motherfucking."

To consider the film itself, and not its title, it is an unqualified success. How could it not be? To be an unqualified success it needed only to possess snakes, and to locate them on a plane. It does so. It then moves those snakes (which look utterly, utterly fake) through scenes of carnage and mayhem and gore.

And now, again, the Cinema of Attractions. The True Believe knows that there are no heroes and villains in a great b-film; there are only moments of exhilaration. In Snakes on a Plane, I cheer both for the snakes and for those who fight back, but it is not that my sympathies are fickle but indeed that I cheer for the imaginative death, the interplay of light and blood and sweat in ways that I would never have imagined myself. These scenes lost their signification to me; watching people die did not move me for they were not people but elements. Watching snakes die did not thrill me for they were not killers but elements. And watching these elements weave together was a transcendent thing, because it was pure, unbridled spectacle. I laughed as I watched Snakes on a Plane. I laughed with the untainted delight of a child. It is a film that has no meaning but to impress, and no function but to show us something we have never seen and will never see, and that is motherfucking snakes on a motherfucking plane.