The Horror Honeys: Venom: An Angry Rant-y Review

Venom: An Angry Rant-y Review

A Slasher Honey Rant Review by Chassity

Venom (2005)

Here’s a not-so-secret tidbit about me: I am obsessed with all things 90s. I’m not even slightly exaggerating. 

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when, as I was complaining about the lack of fresh and undiscovered  slasher movies available for my viewing pleasure, Revenge Honey Linnie introduced me to a slasher movie called Venom by stating that it was chock full of hilariously 90s actors. The premise sounded somewhat unique, so I was happy to give it a chance. 

For the first half of the movie, I wasn’t disappointed. 

The Plot: In a small town in Louisiana, a group of high school seniors quickly find that college is the least of their worries. A tragic accident leaves a voodoo-practicing woman dead and brings the town weirdo (who dies in the car accident after being bitten by a soul-possessing snake) back from the dead as some sort of monster creature who won’t stop until he’s killed off everyone in his path. 

Sure, the acting and the characters were as hilariously bad as Linnie had warned me about. But was I entertained? Absolutely.

I love the slasher genre inside and out. Including the tropes, clichés, and stereotypes. There’s something comforting about going into a slasher movie expecting them. And, in this way, Venom was everything it should have been. All the generic stock characters were there. Any real semblance of plot beyond a backstory for the killer is practically non-existent. This movie does not pretend to be anything other than a gore fest. And I can respect that. 

HOLY FUCK! That's terrifying! Oh... wait... Wrong Venom. Sorry kids.
At least the movie hits the ground running. If it can be called that. We first see hints of the life-changing accident and then the movie introduces us to the main characters. Truth be told, calling them that doesn’t feel quite accurate because after we meet them, they’re all still easily forgettable and don’t do much of anything except cry and wait around to be murdered. 

Token 90s characters: check! It's 2005, but who cares!
There’s the promiscuous blonde. The token black girl. The good guy. The good girl. The jerky macho dudes. The good guy sets off the main story, as he's broken up with his girlfriend but still loves her, but most of the cast? By the time you see them again, it won’t even matter. 

Except for CeCe. She’s at the center of the story, as it’s her grandmother who died in the car accident, her grandmother’s snakes that bite Ray the tow truck guy who becomes the villain, and her grandmother who’s at the center of the voodoo community in this particular town. It is CeCe who knows all the information the other characters need to know, and who has the tools to fight Ray off and keep them safe. So it seemed natural that she would be one of the main characters and that she’d make it to the end, or at least be the last one to die, right? 

That’s what you’d think. But that’s not what happened at all. 

Which brings me to the biggest of all the problems with this movie. 

Look, as someone who watches a ton of horror, I’m no stranger to the trope of the black characters dying first, or of the Final Girl being the lone survivor. And, to be honest, I never used to have a problem with it. But in this movie? Well, let’s just say that in this case it pissed me off so much I was sweating with anger by the time I finished the movie. The lone survivor in Venom is not who it should be. It’s exactly who you think it’d be, except that it isn’t. 

"Do these look ok? I'll need them for an Eli Roth movie later."
Besides the fact that CeCe’s grandmother (the center of the inciting incident) dies before she even really has any dialogue (trust me, it happens so fast that this isn’t even close to a spoiler), at the scene of the crime we’re introduced to two black cops, one played by popular 90s rapper Method Man. I was stoked to see him appear in the film because I love him as an actor almost as much as I love his music. He lasts about five minutes past our introduction to him, followed quickly by two other officials, both black, who die before we get to know their names. That frankly upset me more than a little bit and caused me to raise my eyebrows. It was a definitely a missed opportunity. Method Man could have been a heavy source of entertainment for the film. He’s really funny, and he could have brought a touch of comedy that the film really needed, especially when you know the heavy-hitter names responsible for making the film. 

But I was able to shrug it off. Because I was sure that the survivor/survivors would be the two most interesting characters who carried the entire damn film. One who happened to not be a blonde woman and the other who happened to not be a woman at all. It only made sense. 

"I WIN! I WIN!"
Neither of these characters survived. Who did? A blonde girl with no real importance to the story. Whose only purpose was as the girlfriend to the main character. Who had zero Final Girl potential and was only given Final Girl treatment at the end of the movie because she had the look of other Final Girls: white and female. As someone who has a fondness for movies that defy expectations and movies that take advantage of Final Boy opportunities (because it shows that men can be vulnerable, too, not just women), I got so pissed that it pretty much ruined everything that I did like about the movie. 

And there was… some stuff to like. For starters, getting to stare at Jonathan Jackson for almost two whole hours was a treat. He totally embraced the role, and went into complete horror stereotype caricature mode, so that was entertaining. The movie also had a great killer. Ray was absolutely ruthless. Diabolical, even. The way that he dominates the whole way through the film, and the clever things he does to outsmart and outweigh his victims were pretty damn fun to watch. 

Another thing this film also did well was the way it handled the exposition. That’s something that is extremely difficult to do well, without becoming boring. Venom presented the necessary backstory in a truly suspenseful and creepy way. In fact, it created such intrigue and interest that I couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen next once I knew the setup. 

OH MY GOD! That's... wait. Wrong Venom again.
Sorry.
But that’s just the thing. It was absolutely wasted. Because none of the things that CeCe’s character presented actually happened. Ray wasn’t some voodoo monster. He only came across as your typical mindless killing machine. Which would have been fine, if his backstory didn’t imply more to the audience. 

The other problem is that once the killing started, it never stopped. There was no time to catch your breath, no buildup to each murder, nothing to keep you on the edge of your seat. It was like a Friday the 13th movie. Just senseless bloodbath after senseless bloodbath. It felt like the filmmakers tried to create a story for the first half of the movie, and then in the last half just said, “screw it, just hurry up and kill everyone and be done with it.”

Look, I never want to be the person to read too much into a movie or make a political or social statement out of everything. But I had to ask myself what kind of message it sends when a filmmakers disregard the two obvious choices for Final Boy or Final Girl in favor of a character that isn’t likable, doesn’t drive the action, and gives the audience no reason to care about her…just because she looks more like the stereotypical final character. The Final Destination series had 3 out of 5 final characters be Final Boys. Most horror movies give us a final character who is the one most directly linked to the villain and his backstory (Sidney Prescott, Laurie Strode to name a few). In this movie, that character (CeCe, the main black character) sticks around just long enough to give the white characters the tools they need to survive and then is quickly killed off by Ray. 

If you’re okay with that, then see this movie. It’s a fun drink of water in a world where slasher lovers like me are dying of thirst from lack of any real original slashers over the past five to ten years. But if you expect more than tons of stereotypes and minute by minute deaths from your horror? Well, then I’m going to have to borrow a page from the Revenge Honey’s book and leave you with this:

It sucks. Don’t watch it.