Combustible Celluloid
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With: Agnes Bruckner, Jonathan Jackson, Laura Ramsey, D.J. Cotrona, Rick Cramer, Meagan Good, Bijou Phillips, Method Man, Pawel Szajda, Davetta Sherwood, Stacey Travis, Marcus Brown, James Pickens Jr., Deborah Duke
Written by: Brandon Boyce, Flint Dille, John Zuur Platten
Directed by: Jim Gillespie
MPAA Rating: R for strong horror violence/gore, and language
Running Time: 85
Date: 09/16/2005

Venom (2005)

0 Stars

Snake Oil

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

In Venom, a voodoo doctor's granddaughter tells her friends to get out of the house because it's not safe. But ten minutes later, she tells everyone to get in the house because, in fact, it is the only safe place (it has a spell on it to keep the killer out). Yet whenever anything bad happens this same girl just stands in one spot, weeping.

Directed by Jim Gillespie (I Know What You Did Last Summer), Venom is not an entirely inept movie; it looks like a professional production, but it's so confounded lazy and stupid that it makes your head spin.

The original idea might have had some merit in some other movie. The voodoo lady (Deborah Duke) has exorcized the evil spirits from several killers, rapists and evildoers; the spirits come out in the form of black CGI snakes. She has safely buried the snakes in a box, but a new building development forces her to dig it up. While transporting it, she has an accident, and the snakes enter the body of the local weirdo tow-truck driver (Rick Cramer).

The accident is witnessed by Eden (Agnes Bruckner, from Blue Car and Rick) and her spineless, mouth breathing boyfriend (Jonathan Jackson). It's all pretty traumatic, but Eden wakes up the next morning and appears in her kitchen wearing a fresh layer of lip gloss. (Gotta have your priorities, I guess.)

From there, Venom becomes yet another Halloween/Friday the 13th knockoff, with stupid, terrified teens running around in the dark Louisiana swamps, trying to avoid decapitation or other, worse fates. Among the cast is Bijou Phillips (Bully, The Door in the Floor), playing another of her sexy trailer trash character, but alas, she's eliminated far too soon. None of the teens possesses a personality that resembles anyone you may have met in real life, and their dialogue reveals a serious lack of brain cells: "what part of that creep did you guys not see?" Huh?

Director Gillespie is one of those guys who pretends that Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven's Scream never happened, that filmmakers can still get away with this kind of creaky formula. They can't.

DVD Details: Dimension's DVD comes with cast auditions, a making-of featurette and a storyboard-to-film comparison, but does not include an apology to those who sat through it...

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