“I’m a little bit about the bait and switch,” Craig Brewer said in a recent Dallas interview. “I want to titillate and engage and be provocative, but I don’t want to offend. I don’t want to be offensive. I want as many people to enjoy the film as possible.”

The young writer-director, whose “Hustle & Flow” made an unexpected splash in 2005, was talking about his sophomore feature “Black Snake Moan,” a wild combination of farce and melodrama (with a strange touch of sweetness) in which a black farmer and one-time blues singer named Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) chains a young self-destructive white girl named Rae (Christina Ricci) to a radiator in his living room to force her off booze and drugs, and both find a kind of redemption in the end.

The picture has been criticized by some for its exploitative character and supposed insensitivity, but Brewer argues that essentially it’s a story in the tradition of some of his favorite Southern writers—Tennessee Williams, Flannery O’Connor and Erskine Caldwell. “I’m a guy that was raised on those kind of stories and raised on those kind of plays,” Brewer said. “It’s definitely not new to me. I bring up movies like [Williams’] ‘Baby Doll’ to people, and they look at me like a deer in the headlights. We don’t really have movies anymore where [as in ‘Hustle’] you feel it’s really okay to laugh at a whore or a pimp…or where [as here] you find that this outrageous situation is absolutely funny. But I live in the South, and funerals are funny, and then immediately tragic and sad. And we seem to be just fine with it. I don’t know if everybody’s going to be prepared for [this movie], but they seem to be enjoying it.”

Another criticism leveled against the film, Brewer added, is that in the end its message is too positive. “They call it ‘righteous,’” he said. “But I really believe in what I’m saying. The whole movie came about because I was having these intense anxiety attacks, trying to get ‘Hustle & Flow’ going, and my dad died of a heart attack at forty-nine—a very healthy guy—and it really messed with me. I really wanted my dad back, I wanted him to tell me that this is normal, that everybody goes through a time where they are suddenly aware that they can die. And it leads to reckless times. And I needed to be yanked back. That’s what the whole radiator and the chain is, much as it has this exploitative feel to it and the whole flip on southern imagery and mythology and iconography. I’m thinking much more spiritually about it. I needed to be tethered to something, I needed something that wasn’t going to move, that would just unconditionally be solid. And that’s, I think, what happens to Rae. Everybody’s always wondering, ‘Are you exploring race and gender issues with ‘Black Snake Moan’? And I’m like, absolutely not. I mean, I know it’s there, and I know I’m playing off of it. But I’m not exploring it. I’m exploring something else.”

While Brewer happily discussed literary influences and his own personal anxiety’s impact on the picture, moreover, he emphasized that there was another, even more important element at work—the blues. “I’m really trying to make music movies from my state,” he explained. “And the best influence [on ‘Black Snake Moan’]—apart from some of those Russ Meyer movies—is music.” He became a blues fan, he said, when he was twelve and first saw “Risky Business,” and his father told him that the song played under one scene was by Muddy Waters. “I was hooked,” he said. “I was always collecting blues albums.

“I really am not trying to use music as a soundtrack,” he continued. “It’s not garnish, it’s not frosting. It’s the cake. I’m really trying to make these southern music movies. ‘Hustle & Flow’ was very much, in my estimation, a rap movie. Rap dances between fantasy and reality, and that was the spirit of the movie. This being the blues movie, I’ve always felt that blues music is anxiety music. They’re articulating their fears repeatedly. And when you’re in that situation, when you’re in a club and you hear people speaking about cheating and death and heaven and hell, you tend to exorcise it out of your body.

“It’s a very interesting and redemptive lie.”

Which might just be a good description of “Black Snake Moan.”