It’s pretty standard stuff and that’s the problem, its standard. Not new, not refreshing, enjoyable yes but nothing the average horror fan hasn’t seen before. The characters, deaths and occurrences are all clichéd and so after a while Venom can appear bland. Aside from one (who I’ll come onto in a minute) all the teens are your standard slasher fare, they appear ignorant, annoying and thoroughly unlikeable. There’s a girl who is an admitted thief and yet we’re supposed to route for her? The two leads and also the love interests in the film are similarly boring and ignorant; in fact one of them causes an accident that two kills people because he parks his car in the middle of the road and refuses to move it. The only remorse he shows is when he says he regrets not jumping in the river to try and save one of them, er well what about being a little shit and causing the crash in the first place?! I suppose I’m being a bit harsh, whilst their love plot is pretty standard the “final girl” is at least watchable despite having no interesting or outstanding character traits. The script tries to do something with her getting over the loss of her Dad but it never goes anywhere. The final disappointment? The death scenes. Like the rest of the movie they’re bland and uninteresting, always shying away from the gore. The majority involve a stab with a knife, the worse being a simple slash across a cheek. The camera work is pretty shoddy, especially around the aforementioned death scenes and one guesses that this is the director’s attempts to try and liven them up. Obviously it doesn’t work.
However Venom isn’t a complete write off. The pacing as already stated is pretty quick and I never found myself bored during the run time. There’s also an interesting back story for one character, a young teen who is the illegitimate son of Ray after he and the boy’s mother had a one night stand. It’s an interesting little subplot and the moment when he goes through Rays garage and finds school pictures of himself was genuinely touching, it’s quickly forgotten though and as a nice a plot element it is, it’s never given a proper pay off.
For me Venoms strongest element is its setting and atmosphere. Whilst watching this I realised how few horror movies exploit Louisiana’s rich history. Seriously, it’s such a great spooky setting yet there’s hardly any set here! Even fewer that use the Voodoo elements so rich in its past to their advantage. Venom surprisingly does though, when it’s not trying to copy every slasher movie in existence there is some genuine inventive stuff. I liked the whole voodoo thing; I liked the final chase through the swamp, the spooky cemetery stuff. It’s all pretty different and unique and it’s nice to see a rare venture into this part of America. The atmosphere is also really well done, a spooky Voodoo-filled old house, misty swamps, it’s all text book stuff but it’s done really really well.
Venom is not really as bad as I’ve made it sound, it’s enjoyable and a good way to pass the time but in no way justifies a second viewing. It’s quite sad as film that wants to be more and has the opportunity to do so but instead just ends up falling into the same holes as all the other bad horrors made around the same time. In fact watching Venom just made me want to watch Hatchet (2006) a film that tries to be an 80’s slasher and succeeds, one that’s also set in the swamps of Louisiana. Also, I was really surprised how few horror movies have taken advantage of the Louisiana/ New Orleans setting. It’s an area with a great history of supernatural occurrences so if anyone has any recommendations of ones I may not have heard of please let me know!