CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR & SCREENPLAY: MIKE HODGES / STARRING: ROSANNA ARQUETTE, JASON ROBARDS JR, TOM HULCE / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Director Mike Hodge's 1989 vaguely-supernatural thriller, Black Rainbow, is a film whose backstory is arguably more interesting than the film itself. Thanks to the various financial issues with the companies financing its distribution, Black Rainbow went from being a film from a well-regarded director and starring three award-winning actors - Rosanna Arquette, Jason Robards Jr., and Tom Hulce - from the production company behind Gandhi and Chariots of Fire to being unceremoniously released three years later on a home video imprint known mainly for slashers.
The film itself is the story of Martha Travis (Arquette), who travels the American south with her father, Walter (Robards), performing a medium act in churches. Early on, the implication is that this is a bit of chicanery, but the film slowly reveals that not only are Martha's powers real, they're changing. She begins to hear from people who are not yet dead, though they soon will be. Local reporter Gary Wallace (Hulce), soon gets wind of the story and begins investigating.
The performances from the three leads are excellent, with Arquette the main reason to seek out the new Arrow Films restoration, and director Hodges' imagery the second. The director chooses to shoot the film more like a thriller than a supernatural tale, and while that works visually, the actual storyline is hampered by a subplot featuring a hitman. It's given a lot of screen time, but never fully exploited, and the acting by those within it is either flat or overly-hammy. Thankfully, an intriguing development in the film's latter scenes allows for Black Rainbow to really lean into the supernatural aspects of the story, with a really excellent final shot which ties in several comments and concepts teased out within the film. While a long way from a lost gem, Black Rainbow certainly didn't deserve to be hidden this long.