For some reason I thought I hadn’t seen that many Wes Craven films, but after looking through his IMDb page, I realized I’ve actually seen a fair number of his offerings. Still, the ones that always stick out are The Hills Have Eyes movies, his Nightmare entries and Scream. So, when I saw one of his movies that I hadn’t seen pop up on Netflix Instant, I figured I’d cross another one off the list. That’s how I came to The Serpent And The Rainbow.
This is one of those movies that I know of, but went in knowing zero details. As it turns out, Bill Pullman stars as Dennis Alan, an anthropologist who spends his time traveling from one remote place to another, usually running into various kinds of mystical or supernatural elements. In fact, the main thrust of the film finds him in Haiti dealing with voodoo after his bosses at the pharmaceutical company task him with figuring out what turns people there into zombies. To clarify, we’re talking about voodoo zombies which aren’t actually the living dead, but instead living people acting like the living dead.
I won’t get into too many details on this one because, honestly, it’s been a few days and I can’t quite remember many of them. Pullman narrates the whole thing like it’s a detective story which is actually an intriguing element for a story like this. I also enjoyed seeing a more modern take on the original zombie concept considering the only films of that nature I’ve watched are Val Lewton’s I Walked With A Zombie and the James Bond movie Live And Let Die.
And yet, at the end of the day, there wasn’t much about this movie that stuck with me. There was a solid sense of xenophobic dread all around in the film, but I didn’t really connect to Pullman or any of the other characters. As such, all the crazy dream sequences — which really are quite effective — weren’t enough for me to really get invested in the story. I guess that just goes to show that you need more than an interesting story to make a great film.