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Venom (2005)

DVD Cover (Dimension)
Genres:
Creature Film, Horror, Slasher Film, Supernatural Horror
Director:
Jim Gillespie Jim Gillespie
Starring:
Agnes Bruckner Agnes Bruckner
Jonathan Jackson Jonathan Jackson
Laura Ramsey Laura Ramsey
D.J. Cotrona D.J. Cotrona
Rick Cramer Rick Cramer

4.8 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 19, 2005
Hooks and crowbars seem to be, for the most part, the same tool. They are both handy when you need something stabbed or gouged. They are both handy when you need to drag something. They both makes wonderful weapons for either psychotic or demonic killers. Director Jim Gillespie knows this, and now he has found a way to use both of these typically normal items as instruments for torture and death. In "I Know What You Did Last Summer", Gillespie's last film, he used the hook, which was wielded by a pissed off fisherman who wanted revenge. In "Venom", Gillespie's newest film, he uses the crowbar, which is wielded by a resurrected garage mechanic who has been possessed with snakes that contain the evil from hundreds of murderers and sadists. "Venom" might as well have been called "I Know What You Did Last Summer In the Bayou". Gillespie takes every single teenage horror movie cliché and stereotype (most of which he created) throws them all into a blender, and doesn't presss stop until they are so mushed up and sloppy that they really have no form at all. "Venom" has the foul smell of excrement from the opening scenes, and it fails to recover. Had there not been some decent death scenes, the film would have been a total waste of time. There were some positive notes, but for the most part, "Venom" packs very little punch at all.

Ah, the typical teenage horror movie plot. A group of friends find themselves being picked off, one by one, by a resurrected garage mechanic named Ray Sawyer (Rick Cramer), who has been possessed by the "evil of countless souls". At first, they attempt to board up in an old crazy voodoo lady's house, but that proves futile when Ray rips the entire living-room out with his "Jeepers Creepers" tow truck. Agnes Bruckner stars as Eden, the heroine of this saga, who wants more than the small Louisiana town has to offer. Eric (Jonathan Jackson) is her "on again off again" boyfriend who wants her to spend the rest of her life with him. D.J. Cotrona co-stars as Ray's neglected son, Method Man as a dumber than usual police officer, and Bijou Phillips as a girl with an annoying voice who deserves everything she gets. The film revs up to an ending that falls flat, with something happening that we are told early in the film could not possibly happen. I also wondered why we even needed the last part of the film. We are told by one of the characters that all Ray wants is to kill the girl with the voodoo powers. Why does he then go after everyone else? Just for the hell of it? "Venom" made me wonder what the selection criteria guidelines are over at Dimension Films? Out of all the scripts they receive annually, was this the best they could choose? Did D.J. Cotrona's whole "Ring my bell! Ring my bell!" speech not seem like a bad idea to the studio executives?

What really hurts is that I was slightly looking forward to this film, even though it was pity dumped into less than 500 theatres. "I Know What You Did Last Summer" was a fairly clever little film, and Jim Gillespie had taken such a break since that film - I thought he must have been using that time to knock the next one out of the park. Evidently, he was merely picking his nose and watching "Urban Legends: Final Cut" over and over again. That is the only explanation I can summons. The biggest problems with the film were: (01) the script. Some of this dialogue is laughable, especially when Cece (Meagan Good) is trying to explain just what Ray Sawyer is doing back from the dead. Could no one write better dialogue than that? I think Uwe Boll could have rolled out something better than that garbage; (02) the inconsistencies. We are told Ray Sawyer cannot be killed or harmed. Lies. We are told he just wants to kill Cece and no one else. Lies. We are told he cannot harm them inside the blessed house. Lies. Do they tell us anything that turns out to be a truth; and, (03) the ending. Come on. We sit through all of this voodoo and "ring my bell" just for this? Enraging. I know the script was weak, but an ending like this just slaps the viewer in the face one more time... just to rub it in that the producers have pulled one over one you... traded eight bucks for a pile of shit.

On to the good. There were some things about "Venom" that I enjoyed, little Jim Gillespie touches that reminded me of how good he might be again. I liked the way in which Ray Sawyer stutter-stepped as he walked occasionally. The quick cuts and the edit job helped make the death scenes that much better, those that worked at all. I enjoyed the simplicity of the crowbar as the murder weapon, but the sander was a little much. I also enjoyed the usage of the Louisiana bayou. This film did a much better job in capitalizing on the creepiness of the swamps, unlike "The Skeleton Key". As for the acting, I hope Agnes Brucker is not getting into a strictly horror career - she has far too much talent for that. I guess I most enjoyed getting to watch D.J. Cotrona on screen for such a long time. Men that attractive are just too adorable for words, and they can add to my overall enjoyment of the film. Unfortunately, they killed him off. Oops, there went a spoiler. They took the best looking part of the film and killed him off. Bad move. Oh, and here is a stream of conscience thought for you - what the hell was with the sequence in the old tomb with Jonathan Jackson playing the brave hero? That was one of those "Titanic" moments. Could the bitch not stay quiet enough? She killed him, not Ray Sawyer. By the end of the film, all but one have died. Spoilers be damned, you pick the winner.

In a perfect world, "Venom" would have been directed by John Carpenter, written by Wes Craven, and featured a nude scene with D.J. Cotrona and whomever else they wanted to be naked. This is not a perfect world. How imperfect is it? Just check "Venom" out for that answer. This film was 10% decent, 5% cool, and 85% "what the fuck were they thinking". Jim Gillespie needs to try something a little newer and a little more original. I know I say this a lot, but this film might have worked nine years ago. Back then, killers with hooks and creepy masks, and even crowbars could get away with murder, literally. These days, they just don't work so well. Dimension was obviously attempting to turn Ray Sawyer into a new franchise characters like Freddy Krueger or Jason Voorhees - that can be the only excuse I can think of for them. Unfortunately, Ray Sawyer is not that creepy. He is menacing. He is certainly dead. He just lacks that same something that the others had. Maybe he needs to trade in his crowbar for a chainsaw. Maybe he needs to give back the "Jeepers Creepers" truck. Maybe he needs to head over to Dimension Films and smack some people around for ruining his career.

4/10.
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Crispy #1: Crispy - added 10/27/2009, 06:05 PM
As entertaining a read as that review was, I have to disagree with you. Not so much your points against the film, just the magnitude of their collateral damage. I found this a fun, albeit standard, slasher flick that should suit fans of the genre well. I'd go about a high 6.
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