Thursday, April 14, 2011

Venom (2005)

In case you're living under a rock, "Scream 4" (or "Scre4m") is coming out tomorrow. In all honesty, it does and doesn't make sense that said movie has been made. On one hand, when the first "Scream" came out, horror was in pretty dire straits, whereas it's more popular now. On the other hand, the genre has changed so much since then ("torture porn", the return of the zombie, remakes by the truck-full, the neo-grindhouse movement, the return of evil rednecks-the list goes on) that the idea of "Scream" coming back to possibly mock one or two of these changes and returns kinda makes sense. It also makes sense because writer Kevin Williamson has been in the midst of a comeback recently with the TV series "The Vampire Diaries." On the other hand, the last genre picture he was involved with-2005's "Venom"-is something he probably doesn't want to look back on.

Eric (Jonathan Jackson) takes his Yankee pals to a backwater town in Louisiana, in which Sean'a (D.J. Cotrona) father Ray (Rick Cramer) died. However, he died trying to save a voodoo witch, and was bitten by one of her snakes. Well, he's now a zombie that kills indiscriminately, and he sees these kids as-well, as dumb kids who need to be killed.

Among it's problems, the biggest problem with "Venom" is how dated it must have felt-especially with it's small theatrical release, and the fact that it barely made a ripple in the box-office. By 2005, the "hip" style of horror Williamson helped spearhead was a thing of the past and out of date. Plus, with guys like Eli Roth, Rob Zombie and James Wan becoming the new poster boys for mainstream horror, and the wave of remakes (J-Horror, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Dawn of the Dead" for example) coming in, Williamson's days at the top seemed to be numbered. Who needed him when remakes, gore and sadistic torture were the new thing? As far as audiences were concerned, this was a tired relic.

Apart from all of that, "Venom" isn't really a terrible movie-it's just a really minor one. Sure, there's a few neat kills, a few suspenseful moments, and some adequate direction (from "I Know What You Did Last Summer" director Jim Gillespie), but there's little here that stands out. In fact, the whole thing is just a generic slasher movie, and doesn't offer anything you haven't seen before (though some boobs would have helped.) I know, Williamson has been behind crap before ("Scream 3" for example), but this movie is so by the numbers, that one can't help but think "the guy that wrote "Scream" and "The Faculty" helped produce this?" Hell, even Williamson's knack for characterization is absent, and so many of the cliches he gleefully mocked in the past are present.

Granted, Williamson may be getting the last laugh (we'll see how "Scream 4" turns out), but "Venom" is such a minor slasher movie that one can almost wonder what made him such a big deal in the first place. You've seen worse, but you'll also struggle to give a shit as well.

Rating: 4/10

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