The Serpent and the Rainbow

By Brett Mullins

Released: 1988

Directed by Wes Craven

Anthropologist Dennis Alan travels to Haiti in search of a drug that turns the user into a ‘zombie.’ He joins forces with a local psychiatrist to sift through what is science and what is superstition in a society dominated by brutal rule and ancient belief.

The Serpent and the Rainbow is a strange and at times surreal experience. The Haitian setting provides a familiar yet distant background that pulls the audience out of their comfort zone. This allows for a number of disturbing ‘dream’ sequences that bring the element of horror into the film. 

For a film this off key, the acting is well done. Bill Pullman (the President from Independence Day), Zakes Mokae, and Brent Jennings are excellent as they play Dennis Alan, the iron-fisted Dargent Peytraud, and a gambler and conartist Louis Mozart respectively. 

Though this film has a strong cast, high productions values, and a mysterious setting, it is not without its flaws which are all related to the plot. When making a film about the supernatural, the filmmakers must establish the metaphysics or parameters of the unknown so the audience can follow and understand events. This film does not have this consistency. 

The Serpent and the Rainbow has several spooks and wincing moments; however, the story fails to pull together in the end.

Rating: 5/10

1 comment:

  1. TSATR is one of Wes Craven's better films IMO. Outside of his biggest commercial and critical successes it's hard for me to recommend much else of his filmography that I could call underrated except for this. Sure it's uneven but I think it's ultimately satisfying.