Hippo Manchester
September 22, 2005

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Venom (PG-13)
by Amy Diaz

A voodoo-created evil zombie picks off the members of a group of Louisiana teens in the swampy mess of Venom.

When a movie like this begins with a lot of exposition about the assorted characters (usually somewhere between six and eight attractive, racially diverse teenagers), I have to admit it just pisses me off. The over-explanatory backstories seem like a cruel waste of time, a torturous requirement to listen to painful and moronic dialogue that we know will never be of any importance. These teens have one future and it is to die gruesome deaths, one by one, until only the most bland and unremarkable character remains. Making us learn their backgrounds is unnecessary and, frankly, just gets in the way of the killing, which is the only reason anybody attends such a movie. No amount of backstory can ever help us distinguish the teens, who are identical in their expressions of painful stupidity, nor can it ever cause us to care about people who the movie will take such glee in dispatching.

I will give Venom this, however: once itís through with the exposition and the scenes that require a comical amount of ďactingĒ from the assorted characters, it moves into a phase of uninterrupted slaughter that doesnít bother with much in the way of motivation or explanation. Eden (Agnes Bruckner) drew the bland card in this film and leads her ever-dwindling group of far more entertaining friends through the bayou as the reanimated body of an already creepy tow-truck-operator named Ray (Rick Cramer) cuts them down one by one.

And, er, well, thatís the ball game, folks. Killing, more killing, the occasional truly hilarious attempt at acting on the part of Bruckner and then back to the killing. Plotwise, thatís the movie.

Sadly, Venom never crosses over into so-bad-itís-good category. It has all the elements ó poorly executed gore, high-school-drama-level acting, this particularly bizarre wind-chimes-of-evil sound effect that precedes the appearance of the zombie. But these elements never really coalesce into a unified group of stupid, working together to become more awful than the sum of the awful parts.

Ah, well, Halloweenís not here yet so Iím sure there are plenty of bad horror movies to come.