Review: The Serpent and the Rainbow (1988)

serpent

By: Sean Gardner

The Serpent and the Rainbow is another horror classic from the legend Wes Craven. It based on a nonfiction book of the same name, and deals with Haitian voodoo. The main character, played by Bill Pullman, is hired by a pharmaceutical company to investigate and retrieve a mysterious substance from a voodoo priest that seemingly brings people back from the dead.  Along the way, he experiences weird hallucinations and constantly talks about an unshakable feeling of doom.

I have not read the book by Wade Davis, but we are told at the beginning of the film that it is inspired by true events.  In Hollywood that usually means that almost nothing in the film actually happened.  However, I watched an interview with Craven talking about how most of the people in the film are real practitioners of voodoo rituals.

Much like Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, this film is more set up than pay off. But when it pays off, it is freaky. Just four years removed from his nightmare on elm st, this film has elements of terror in your dreams. This is a departure for Craven from his more “traditional” slasher films. It is a thriller of terrifying proportions. What makes this film and many other horror films is how it seamlessly melds realism with the supernatural. This film is also unique to the horror genre because it relies more on story and character development than blood and guts. In my opinion, jump scares are the laziest way to get a scare out of the audience. It is much harder for a filmmaker to create an atmosphere of uneasiness.

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