With three horror films to choose from this weekend, it’s officially safe to say that the two Hollywood produced aren’t worth the celluloid they’re burned on. If box-office numbers are down, analysts shouldn’t be surprised. But unlike Cry_Wolf, the filmmakers of “Venom” decided to go all out and make an rated R film. Sadly, the death scenes are so unimaginative and the gore is so minimal that you might miss it if you blink.
Living in a boring town surrounded by swamplands in Louisiana, a group of teens go about living their lives like normal. Normal, that is, until a crazy old woman digs up a suitcase full of evil souls trapped in the bodies of venomous snakes. When the priestess’ car spins out of control and ends up hanging off the side of the bridge, a big redneck tow-truck driver climbs in the car to help. The suitcase opens of course, the snakes bite him, and you can probably guess what happens next.
The most interesting aspect this film has to offer is how it deals with race. In this Podunk little bayou town, most of the residents (and most of the teens) are white. The few people of racial diversity are the bumbling cop (Method Man) and the crazy old voodoo priestess. The other two – a dishwasher and a shoplifter – are part of the teen group now being hunted by the snake-bitten redneck. Guess which people die first? If you guessed these four people, you’re right.
Aside from that little quibble, the most troubling thing about this film is the editing. At times (especially when someone is being killed), “Venom” was pieced together like the editor was trying to make a trailer. Director Jim Gellespie (“I Know What You Did Last Summer”) shows no sign of separating his style from any other mediocre director the horror genre has to offer.
Two of the three screenwriters are more experienced writing video games. In the video game world, poor dialogue and weak character development isn’t really a problem because they don’t focus on that. The focus is on the actual game play itself. In the world of cinema, however, that element does matter and in a big way. In a slasher film like this, it isn’t imperative to have long intricate dialogue but it would have been nice to have some interesting conversational exchange going on somewhere.
If you find yourself in the mood for horror, this isn’t the time. Three horror films were released this weekend and two of them were produced by Hollywood. “Cry_Wolf” was a PG-13 monstrosity of epic proportions and while “Venom” is almost as poisonous, at least it has the balls (the actual size of them is a different matter) to be rated R. The other film, (HellBent) is only playing in a few select cities but if it’s playing in yours, go see that instead.