23 October 2014

The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)
98 min.
Directed by Wes Craven.
With Bill Pullman, Cathy Tyson, Zakes Mokae, Paul Winfield, Michael Gough, Brent Jennings, Theresa Merritt, Dey Young.
A passable voodoo horror from director Wes Craven.

Harvard anthropologist Dennis Alan (Pullman) goes to Haiti in hopes of procuring a powder which has the ability to make the living appear as if they're completely dead: paralyzed but still conscious.

The discovery of such a drug would mean the answer to primal zombification, and Alan intends to bring it back home for a big medical and corporate sale!

But it won't be so easy.

Slowly, Alan finds himself drawn into Haiti's dark and lawless underground filled with witch doctors, superstition and deadly black magic.

As the lines between nightmares and reality become increasingly blurred, Alan finds he may not escape with his own life.

Based on Wade Davis' non fiction book of the same name, Serpent has a great premise to recommend it. And certainly the film benefits from its on location setting in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, lending the effort a gritty, rough-edged feel of anarchy and unease.

It's a solid supernatural thriller, to be sure, but sterile direction and some rather bland, overly broad performances keep this from ever really becoming transcendental.

Great tagline, though: "Don't bury me... I'm not dead!"

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