Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Film Review: The Serpent and The Rainbow (1988)

The Serpent and The Rainbow (Review)
United States/1988
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No
A 31 Days of Halloween Special Review!*

"...this is the Wes Craven I enjoy!" 

Dennis Alan, an anthropologist, is sent to Haiti to investigate a drug supposedly used to being people back to life. Instead, Dennis finds himself in a living nightmare, where the dead might just be walking the Earth...

Dennis continues his investigation, along with Dr. Marielle, who originally reported and confirmed the "zombie" appearance. Together, the pair face resistance from the secret police, and Dennis faces disturbing visions and nightmares. The story continues with the research and conjuring of the lucrative "zombie" powder, along with more resistance and conspiracy from the local government. I like the stories focus on the different possibilities, even though when they aren't fully developed, and I like the villains in the film, as well. The final act brings the nightmare to life with disturbing visuals and a great ending. The storytelling is often sloppy, where it feels rushed and disconnected; the narration helps, but it doesn't fix the inconsistencies.

The Serpent and The Rainbow is a straight-forward horror film; it's not a zombie horror film like Dawn of the Dead, it's more like a witch doctor horror film. The story used some suspense, disturbing nightmares and visuals, and a few jump-scares. The suspense is occasionally effective, but the jump-scares weren't impressive. The disturbing visuals were my favorite horror aspect of the film; I liked the visuals at the end, especially, like the unnaturally long arms reaching for Dennis and an insane decapitation. The film strives more on its interesting investigation and creepy concept than the traditional horror elements; in other words, it's not the scariest film out there.

The acting is good. The entire cast deliver authentic performances, and its all competent and enjoyable. The special effects are superb, especially towards the end; the film scatters some spectacular old-school effects throughout, though, so it's balanced well enough. Wes Craven's direction is great; although it does have a few inconsistencies, Craven pulls as much out of the cast and screenplay as possible. The cinematography is good, but it's not shot to stand the test of time; the environment is captured competently, though, and it helps build the atmosphere. The music matches the environment and helps create some suspense.

Overall, The Serpent and The Rainbow is a great horror film. I enjoy the story, and its great investigation and eerie visuals, and the film is technically solid. I love the reality vs fantasy in this film, especially the nightmare sequences; this is the Wes Craven I enjoy! I recommend for fans of the genre, especially the old-school.

Score: 7/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore, some nudity and sex.

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