Voodoo is a very misunderstood subject. Unlike the sinister murderous cult of legend and movies, it's actually a vibrant religion born of the mixing of French Catholicism and African traditional religion during slavery times in Haiti. It is a complex, beautiful, and nuanced faith that is a vital part of Haitian culture. One of the most bastardized ideas is that of the zombie of traditional Haitian voodoo. In the early 1980's, anthropologist Wade Davis traveled to Haiti to study the phenomenon and try and find a pharmacological explanation for zombification. He wrote a book about his experience called The Serpent and the Rainbow. It's a fascinating look at the truth of zombies and Voodoo. But then Hollywood got a hold of the book and made this turd sandwich.
Unlike the non-fiction telling that Davis did in the book, the movie is a highly fictionalized version of the events as related by Davis. Bill Pullman plays Davis, so right off the bat you know you are in trouble. Like the real Davis the fake Davis travels to Haiti to find the "zombie drug". He soon gets mixed up in a voodoo war between an evil bokor, (black magician), and the forces of good Voodoo. There is a girl, of course, that the fake Davis falls for. Eventually, they remember the book and Davis discovers that the secret to the zombie drug is a compound made from the poison of the blowfish. But then the bokor tries to use it on Davis and traps his soul and tries to make him a zombie. Davis manages to escape and defeat the bokor in a really stupid bad effects battle.
Davis' book went a long way at dispelling many of the myths about Voodoo. Ironically, the movie based on his book uses those same tired tropes that make Voodoo look sinister and wholly other. It's a typical Hollywood hack job. Still, it's kind of a spooky, fun movie if you completely turn off your brain and try not to think about how it is utter BS and kind of racist. Kind of like when you watch Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.