Poisonously bad `Venom' is an insult to horror movies

Movie Review

September 17, 2005|By Michael Sragow | Michael Sragow,SUN MOVIE CRITIC

Venom isn't worth a critic's venom, but a brief condemnation is in order.

Sept. 11 caused movie companies to delay the opening of any pictures depicting terrorism or collapsed buildings or sloppy airport security. Yet in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, here's a slipshod horror movie set in a small Louisiana town facetiously called "Backwater" that condescends atrociously to Gulf culture.

The native gumbo now being celebrated - or mourned - is treated as the source of a voodoo practice gone wrong that imbues the corpse of a Backwater hard guy with 13 hideous souls. Soon he's committing bloody and bloodier murders, focusing on the granddaughter of the local voodoo priestess and her teenage friends. I'd hoped at least for atmospheric bayou shots, but for those you have to rent Walter Hill's peerlessly eerie Southern Comfort (1981).

In Venom there's nothing that you couldn't get from stock footage. The worst part of this movie is its insult to small-town Southern audiences. The good-girl heroine wants to leave Backwater and study pre-med in Manhattan. Venom gives her an excuse to say good riddance to Louisiana. The movie should have been sent straight to video hell - the back racks of the bargain bins at the dollar stores and discount drugstores.

Venom

Starring Agnes Bruckner and Jonathan Jackson

Directed by Jim Gillespie

Released by Dimension

Rated R

Time 85 minutes

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