Venom
Grade: C-
Year: 2005
Director: Jim Gillespie
Writers: Flint Dille & John Zuur Platten
Genre: Horror
Rated: R
By Scott Spicciati

HURTS LIKE VENOM

In the movies from time to time you'll encounter some truly awful plots. And then, you'll see "Venom" and see firsthand that whenever you think it can't get any worse you will have realized that movies like "Venom" get made on regular basis and somehow make it to theaters.

I don't think you're ready for this: A priestess's car is driven off a foggy bridge on a full-moon night. Down with the car goes a suitcase filled with mystical snakes (hence the film's title) and a poor mechanic who tries to save the priestess but either drowns or gets bitten to death when the suitcase opens, releasing the CGI snakes. But don't blame me for not pinpointing it, I don't even think the movie knows exactly what happens.

But let's continue. The dead mechanic has become possessed by the power of the snakes, which represent all the evil in the world and whomever it embodies can do nothing but kill for the sake of killing -- preferably young and good looking 20-something-year-olds playing teenagers.

Not at all scary looking in his black face paint that probably came from an amateur costume shop, the demon who goes by his mortal name "Ray" compensates with a crowbar he uses to smash and dismember his victims. Sadly most of the kills are uninspiring. With movies like "House of Wax" delivering the goods we no longer tolerate R-rated movies that jump to the next scene before showing the end result of a crowbar to the face. Or maybe I'm just twisted. Or maybe (and this is likely right) we all just really wanted to see what Bijou Phillips looked like after taking a sandblaster to the face.

Good thing somebody knows how to stop Ray. As the granddaughter of the deceased priestess, Cece (Meagan Good) is familiar with southern style voodoo you may recall from this year's lame "The Skeleton Key," but "Venom" doesn't bother to explain the details - such as that red brick dust keeping demons out. I guess taking the time to explore southern cults at this point would look like copyright infringement.

To be sure, "Venom" hardly skips out on the voodoo jargon, and we're treated to spells, chants and other nonsense, but it doesn't stop Ray from killing. His number one target is Cece, but her friend Eden (Agnes Bruckner) and a bunch of other disposables aptly get in line to make their maker.

The question is whether Cece can pull off the right magic before Ray wipes out the entire town, and time is short because the small Louisiana community apparently has a population of about 15.

I have to respect the fact that most of the characters you expect to live - don't. Wait, no I don't. This movie is bad. And with an "R" rating it has no excuse to be so minimal on the gore. But why do I have a hard time hating this movie? Perhaps my expectations were just too low walking into a movie called "Venom," and I think for what it had to work with, the end product at 85-minutes isn't so offensive.

The movie was directed by Jim Gillespie, whose "I Know What You Did Last Summer" succeeded thanks to the revival of the slasher genre started by Wes Craven's "Scream." But it's been mostly downhill since Neve Campbell dominated as the 90s top scream queen.

With nothing about "Venom" sticking out as praiseworthy, it will surely go down as yet another busted low-budget slasher that will see some action on the shelves of your local video rental store. Next please.

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