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4.0 out of 5 stars
Venom [DVD]
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2006
Some films benefit from the fact that there are times when life imitates art (and visa versa). "Marooned" and "The China Syndrome" both benefited from what happened with Apollo 13 and Three-Mile Island, respectively (and we will not begin to discuss what happens when a movie is made of a real event that reminded everybody of a movie in the first place). But sometimes real events can hurt a movie, as when the assassination of President Kennedy became part of the reason the original version of "The Manchurian Candidate" was shelved for a couple of decades. I bring all of this up because in the wake of Hurricane Katrina a splatter flick set in the bayous of Louisiana may well be a case of bad timing. At least the television series "Invasion" got to acknowledge that it might be stepping on some toes with its hurricane references, but "Venom" just runs screaming into the face of reality.
Director Jim Gillespie ("I Know What You Did Last Summer") and producer Kevin Williamson fully intended to create a new movie serial killer in the mold of Michael, Jason and Freddie. The idea for "Mr. Jangles" came from a videogame named "Backwater" that was in development (the name has to do with collecting keys on a ring so that they, altogether now, jangle). Basically he is a tow-truck driver who is possessed by the spirits of a bunch of murderers, which explains both his reliance on a tire jack and his impulse to kill, kill, kill. Ray Sawyer (Rick Cramer), was just your average deadbeat-dad tow-truck operator, but then he ended up at the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, this gets a bit complicated because Ray gets bit by a snake, but not just any snake. This is a snake that carries the souls of 13 murderers, which happened to be in a box that happened to be in the back of car that happened to be driven by a voodoo priestess that happened to go off a bridge because Ray's tow truck was on the wrong side because the two main teenagers in the film, Eden (Agnes Bruckner) and Eric (Jonathan Jackson) were discussing their futures on the bridge.
Once voodoo enters the picture you can understand the Louisiana connection to the film. I guess we can assume, for the sake of argument or just watching the film, that "Venom" takes place before Katrina, but it is hard to ignore the irony that what the dead teenagers in this film go through is not as bad as what happened in New Orleans at the Superdome. The problem is that paying attention to the rules of voodoo that are explained in the film are not that helpful because the story abandons them to engage in standard slasher action. Being related to voodoo priestess is not as good as actually being one, but even the obvious but somewhat promising idea of a voodoo doll could be helpful under the circumstances. But the screenplay fails to take advantage of even that so that ultimate "Venom" does not have much going for it once you get past the location. A lot of contemporary horror films are flawed because the basic story elements are stupid in some significant one, but here my complaint is that this film is not as smart as ti could be given the set up.
Flint Dille & John Zuur Platten (the "Constantine" video game) wrote the story and were helped on the screenplay by Brandon Boyce ("Apt Pupil," "Wicker Park"), and I have to say that one of them did come up with a scene I liked. Zombies are apparently like vampires in that there are certain things you can do to stop them from crossing your threshold. Well, Ray might be possessed, but Mr. Jangles must have picked up some of his basic tow truck driver knowledge because I like the way the killer makes the mountain come to him even if it was not enough to justify rounding up on this one. However, the only thing that separates the dead teenagers who do not get killed from the ones that do is that their names appear at the top of the credits, so there is nothing special happening on that end. When the one person who has been raised believing in voodoo is more freaked out than the ones who do not believe, that is not a good sign. Gillespie does a better job of taking advantage of the Louisiana swamp setting than the voodoo back story, but then the whole excuse for making this 2005 splatter flick is to kill people and Mr. Jangles does that even if he does not have the decided flair of his competition.
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on 24 April 2012
This maybe a Hollywood horror slasher film made by the director of I know what you did last summer but its very good, miles better than the above, a very cool little gem of a slasher movie with an awesome story, lots of fun bloody kills, and a cool creepy villain, for a 15 rated movie its quite bloody, about as much as it can be for the U.K, if you love a good old fashioned horror with a killer going around hacking up teenagers then this is a film you must see!! Very underrated film.
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on 15 February 2009
I caught this on TV a while back, surprised I had not heard of it. A decent little slasher film with some emerging young stars in the cast like Agnes Bruckner (Blood & Chocolate), Laura Ramsey (The Covenant, The Ruins). Not very gory but feels like a good old school slasher from the 80's. Produced by Kevin Williamson who had a hand in Scream and I know what you did last summer! This is definitely one for slasher fans.
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on 17 August 2012
Excellent teen slasher movie. Little known but very scary and polished Halloween type movie with an excellent new villain. Get it in.
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on 27 December 2015
'Venom' is set within a small town in America. One night, a woman digs up a very dangerous snake which leads to a man named 'Ray' getting bitten by it and turning into an evil villain. Ray then starts to murder everyone within the town and he cannot be stopped as he can't be killed in anyway. Before I watched the film I was concerned at the low running time (only 80 minutes) as most films with short run lengths tend to feel rushed and fail to deliver an engaging storyline. But this film was very engaging and didn't feel rushed. There was also good character development and you soon have your favourite characters which you are hoping will stay alive. The villain also looked very creepy in his appearance without him looking too daft.

Overall, I can't recommended this film enough! This is a MUST SEE and its a shame there wasn't a sequel .
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on 26 March 2016
I absolutely love this movie and there are some horror movies that I don't like to watch but this one is good. I have been after this movie since it first came out but for some reason it is not available to buy here in Australia. The plot of this movie is that it's set in Louisiana and is about a group of friends running for there lives from a man possessed by 13 evil souls. It stars Agnes Bruckner who plays Eden. Jonathan Jackson who plays Eric. For people who loves watching a good horror movie I highly recommend this movie.
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on 19 September 2015
This is what it is. It's a pretty fun horror about the standard obligatory teens who uncover a sinister curse/monster/legend that then bumps them off at regular intervals. The special effects and script is fine if you don't expect Shakespeare or a Star Wars budget. It's also worth a watch simply because a number of the actresses (Agnes Bruckner, Laura Ramsey and Meagan Good) have gone on to become regulars in the genre.
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on 25 July 2012
Well, Amazon suckered me in with this one! Based on my purchase/ browsing history, the witchcraft of technology put Venom in front of my face as a recommended purchase. The site told me that the DVD release date was May 2011. A little research shows that this title was actually made back in 2005...

Anyway, I was in for a novel experience with this film since, under the influence of a little alcohol, Mrs Milton agreed to settle down to watch this with me. She NEVER watches horror! So, the DVD sleeve offered the following info about the movie:
"From the creator of Scream and the director of I Know What You Did Last Summer...Venom is a fright-filled voodoo thriller loaded with a cast of the screen's hottest young stars!

Set deep in the eerie swamps of southern Louisiana- Agnes Bruckner (Murder By Numbers), Jonathan Jackson (Tuck Everlasting) and Meagan Good (Roll Bounce) are among a group of teenagers trying to uncover the truth behind a friend's mysterious death. What they find is an evil force more deadly than anyone could have imagined! Now they are the ones running for their lives! Also starring Bijou Phillips (Almost Famous) and Method Man (Garden State), Venom is a chilling horror tale sure to thrill you!"

With the impressive opening sentence, half-decent trailer and the promise of a voodoo-fuelled killing machine, I was let done by what followed: a formulaic horror that lacks any real imagination. It could be argued that no horror tale is entirely new but with Venom we seem to have some cliched horror memes in the possessed killer, creepy house, dumb teenagers/ slasher fodder, etc.

For me, there were some clear highlights to the movie, those being how the killer overcomes the voodoo magic keeping him from his prey and also how he dispatches his victims on the whole; I will reveal neither of these things to you in case you do decide to watch Venom.
The voodoo backstory is a nice touch but ought to have been explored a little further to add some depth and perhaps greater scares since this movie failed to even make Mrs Milton jump.

The young cast are adequate in their roles and bring quite the horror pedigree to Venom with: Agnes Bruckner (The Woods, The Pact, Kill Theory, Vacancy 2), Jonathan Jackson (Insomnia, Riding the Bullet), Laura Ramsey (The Ruins, The Covenant) and Meagan Good (The Unborn, Saw V) but it is Rick Cramer who shines and is suitably menacing and physically imposing enough to pull off the role of the possessed killer; but isn't really given much opportunity to perform.

The practical effects in Venom cannot be faulted but the CGI employed for the snakes and other effects was poor and blatantly computer generated. Additionally, many of the scenes clearly used studio sets rather than somewhere a little more authentic, detracting further from the feel of the film.

Overall, I feel this film ought to have been a decent addition to the stalk `n' slash subgenre but it failed to realise its own potential.
Minus the expletives, Mrs Milton's verdict was that Venom was "Like Snakes on a Plane... with hardly any snakes... and no plane".
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on 26 February 2015
It was an ok movie. Quite predictable as the movie progressed.
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on 22 October 2006
Film is a pleasure to watch and is a refreshing trip back to how slashers were not how they stand at the momment. A good villian, fun plot, the voodoo theme is a good one, intresting charchters, good location. Sure theres better, but there are a lot worse. If your into your slashers check out this gem that has been so poorly treated by its producers
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