Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: Video Game Adaptation, "Venom," is Surprisingly Scary Entertainment

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 12 (of 2006) by Leroy Douresseaux

Venom (2005)
Running time: 86 minutes (1 hour, 26 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong horror violence/gore, and language
DIRECTOR: Jim Gillespie
WRITERS: Flint Dille & John Zuur Platten and Brandon Boyce; from a story by Flint Dille & John Zuur Platten
PRODUCERS: Scott Faye, Karen Lauder, and Kevin Williamson
EDITOR: Paul Martin Smith

HORROR/THRILLER with elements of action

Starring: Agnes Bruckner, Jonathan Jackson, Laura Ramsey, D.J. Cotrona, Rick Cramer, Bijou Phillips, Meagan Good, Method Man, Pawel, Szajda, Davetta Sherwood, Stacey Travis, Marcus Lyle Brown (as Marcus Brown), James Pickens, Jr., and Deborah Duke

A mixed group of teenagers, led by Eden (Agnes Bruckner) and her boyfriend Eric (Jonathan Jackson), find themselves stalked by a mysterious madman who has a key chain that makes a tinkling sound whenever he’s near. They discover that the killer is a recently deceased man named Ray (Rick Cramer), and his corpse now possessed by evil voodoo spirits. Eden and her friends run to the only one who can help them, their friend CeCe (Meagan Good), whose late grandmother, Miss Emmie (Deborah Duke), was a mambo/voodoo priestess and also the reason these evil forces are loose. As the final showdown looms, six teenagers are trapped in Miss Emmie’s house while the monster that was Ray waits outside for them.

Venom is the latest horror film based upon a video game, except that the game in this instance, named “Backwater,” is still in development. Venom is actually sort of a prequel to the game and explains how the game’s featured villain, “Mr. Jangles,” (Ray in this movie), came to be (He’s called “Mr. Jangles” because of the sound his key chain makes when he walks). Venom is actually a throwback to the horror films of the 1980’s, especially such slasher films as the Friday the 13th and Halloween franchises, where a (damn near) supernatural killer stalks teenagers and dispatches them in violently gory and bloody scenes that feature sharp implements and tools piercing or repeatedly slashing young flesh.

Venom is neither bland nor lifeless, and while it may look like a modestly budgeted Sci-Fi original picture (where many obviously have ultra low budgets), it’s fun, and the villain is (mostly) pretty scary. The Louisiana film locations (in swamps and rural areas) add a dreary, fear-inducing, Southern gothic atmosphere. Rarely has a hot and muggy atmosphere seemed so chilling and foreboding. Yes, the writing isn’t very imaginative; virtually every scene is copied or based directly on other horror movies, and in that Venom doesn’t hide that it is hackneyed. The cast stepped out of Abercrombie and Fitch. But as far as horror movies go, this is a straight meat grinder – soft on laughs, but dirt cheap and blunt on blood and guts.

The violence is proudly, rather than shamelessly, gratuitous. I enjoyed this trudge through the mud and muck because Venom is also some of the creepiest Hollywood-style voodoo scares I’ve seen in a while. Venom is like the 25-cent “Little Debbie” brownie that satisfies the chocolate urge when gourmet just isn’t available, and I’d like this brownie. I’d watch Venom again.

6 of 10

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


No comments:

Post a Comment