Directed by Jim Gillespie (D-Tox, I Know What You Did Last Summer) Venom is a voodoo oriented horror film that takes place, appropriately enough, in swamp filled Louisiana. Despite its low rating on IMDb (4.6) I thought the film was actually quite good, it was at least better than Messengers 2: The Scarecrow.
The film deals with “small town” America in the south. We meet the main group of protagonists (victims) whose lives seemingly centre around the Louisiana version of a Dairy Queen. At the start of the film a Creole grandma is out in the swamp in front of a derelict cabin that looks like the one in Pumpkinhead and chanting over a small suitcase.
This suitcase has dead souls in it, evil dead souls who have been put into snakes, black mamba snakes. (Anyone else getting the irony here) After granny finishes her voodoo ceremony she is driving back home when she crashes her car on a bridge. While the car balances precariously on the edge, with the rear of the car dangling over the river, Ray (a local fellow with a scarred face, bad attitude and worse reputation) attempts to help.
Once Grandma is out of the car, she implores Ray to get the small suitcase. Showing that the town’s feelings about him are all wrong, Ray goes back into the car for the suitcase and dies for his troubles.
Or does he?
Although we know that Ray became a sort of human dart board for the fangs of the evil snakes, when the police pull the car up they find two things. The suitcase has been opened and Rex is gone.
The film is pretty dark. Not only because almost all the action takes place at night, but also because it deals with the “dark” side of voodoo. The cast is pretty good despite their youth and Laura Ramsey (The Ruins, “I’m not okay.”) shows that she can be killed by a different kind of plant.
While I did not particularly care for any of the teenage southern protagonists, I did like the creepy Creole Grandmother’s granddaughter CeCe (Meagan Good). Her character was the only one that I really connected with. I did like the main “good girl” Eden Sinclair (Agnes Bruckner) but only because she was the only teen from the town who did not shun Ray while he was around.
The method of elimination of the terrible townie teens were fairly original, there is one point in the film where a sandblaster is used and mercifully we aren’t shown the actual damage done, the director opted to let our imagination fill in that gap. The main disappointment about the film was the curious lack of voodoo.
The film starts with voodoo and ends without it. So the obvious lesson is: if you want to stop voodoo, don’t use voodoo against it. A sort of fighting fire with fire allegory indicating that it is a bad thing. Or it could just mean that the film makers wanted to end the film on a good old fashioned violent act.
Venom is pretty much a mindless “popcorn” movie. A sort of voodoo slasher film that comes up with a few original ways to die. But like most slasher films, it is not too heavy on plot, the acting is not top-notch and the ending is ambiguous.
3.5 stars out of 5, but only because I like Laura Ramsey.
- Messengers 2: The Scarecrow (2009): Why? (mikesfilmtalk.com)
- Jim Gillespie Returns To Directing With TAKE DOWN!! (web1.aintitcool.com)
- I Know What You Did Last Summer Director Jim Gillespie Ready for a Take Down (dreadcentral.com)