I absolutely LOVE The Serpent and the Rainbow and never get tired of watching it. I consider it to be one of Wes Craven’s most underrated films that deserves a wider audience. The overall look and feel of the film is tense and mysterious. This is accomplished through the use of color, subtle but effective special effects, and an amazing atmospheric soundtrack. Kudos to cinematographer John Lindley [Legion, The Good Son] for giving us a feast for the eyes. The colors in this film really pop and the lighting is near perfect. His best work is in the voodoo scenes which vibrate with color and manic energy.
Serpent tells the story of Haitian/West Indies zombies that is presented in such classic films as White Zombie (1932) and I Walked With a Zombie (1943). It’s based on the book by the same title which was written by Wade Davis. The screenplay adaptation by Richard Maxwell and Adam Rodman is brilliant and takes the viewer of an Argento-esque ride where it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Serpent never insults the intelligence of the audience and keeps you spellbound throughout the entire film.
Director Wes Craven is the maestro of this crazy ride. He knows how to make all these elements work together flawlessly. He also paces this film perfectly with lots of ups and downs that build to a fevered pitch at the end. Serpent is a great example of his considerable talent when he brings his A-game to the table.
A final word about actor Bill Pullman [Independence Day, The Grudge] whose character is the heart and soul of this film. He plays the “fish out of water” anthropologist who is trying to understand this mysterious world. Pullman gets every scene right and gives it all the wonder and terror it deserves. With a lesser actor in this role, Serpent could have been a miserable failure. He was the perfect choice for this film.
Make sure you see this one. There is nothing else quite like it.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.