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Rating: R

Agnes Bruckner as Eden
Jonathan Jackson as Eric
Laura Ramsey as Rachel
D.J. Cotrona as Sean
Rick Cramer as Ray
Meagan Good as Cece
Bijou Phillips as Tammy
Method Man as Deputy Turner
Pawel Szajda as Ricky
Davetta Sherwood as Patty
Stacey Travis as Laura
Marcus Lyle Brown as Terry
James Pickens Jr. as Sheriff
Deborah Duke as Miss Emmie

Special Features:
Storyboard-To-Film Comparison: Crash On Bridge; Towing The House; Rachel Gets Impaled; The Mausoleum

Voodoo Nightmare: The Making Of Venom

Cast Auditions

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 85 Minutes

The following text is from the DVD cover:

“Venomis a fright-filled voodoo thriller loaded with a sizzling cast of the screen’s hottest young stars! Set deep in the eerie swamps of southern Louisiana — Agnes Bruckner (Murder by Numbers), Jonathan Jackson (Tuck Everlasting), and Meagan Good (Roll Bounce) are among a group of teenagers trying to uncover the truth behind a friend’s mysterious death. What they find is an evil force more deadly than anyone could have imagined! Now they are the ones running for their lives! Also starring Bijou Phillips (Almost Famous) and Method Man (Garden State) — critics everywhere hailed this chilling and thrilling horror tale!”

Venom is rated R for strong horror violence/gore, and language. Bonus material not rated.

The Movie:
Venom starts out promising enough. The swamp setting is eerie. The voodoo concept throws in a creepy twist for a main bad guy. The snakes featured prominently in the film freak you out. The lead actress is cute. However, what starts out as a potentially unique slasher flick soon degenerates into your standard horror fare. It turns to the well known formula where the kids are picked off one by one in gruesome ways until the lead damsel in distress eventually turns the tables on the invincible, supernatural killer and kills him forever. (But is it really the end?) While sticking to the formula can be pleasing and there are horror fans that enjoy that, I was looking for a little more.

While the main villain, Ray, ends up being your standard slasher movie killer, his origins are interesting. The guy is actually a victim himself and was a decent, though creepy guy before becoming transformed. Venom even goes to great lengths to establish that he’s the illegitimate father of one of the terrorized teens. You actually feel sorry for the guy even though he’s chasing down kids and killing them. Unfortunately, the creators don’t do much with his innocence or his relationship to the boy as the film progresses. There was a lot of character potential there, but it was never used.

The cast is your standard lineup of hot young victims. Agnes Bruckner is attractive as Eden. Jonathan Jackson has a memorable highlight towards the end of the film as Eric (I won’t spoil the scene here). The rest are utterly forgettable. Tabloid darling Bijou Phillips has a cameo as a shoplifting, trailer trash skank. You’ll also find a very brief cameo by Method Man as Deputy Turner.

The effects are decent for a low budget horror film. The Ray makeup is pretty good. The CG snakes vary in quality. Sometimes they are quite realistic, other times they look horribly fake. However, the real Louisiana swamp setting actually is more impressive and gives Venom most of its creepy quality.

The Extras:
Like the movie itself, the bonus features are pretty standard. You have Storyboard-To-Film Comparisons, Cast Auditions, and your usual “making of” video. In the featurette the cast and crew discuss filming in the Louisiana swamps, voodoo, and the story of how Venom became a film. They also discuss the fact that the film was based on a video game that’s still in development.

The Bottom Line:
I’d only recommend Venom to the most die-hard horror fans. The film had a lot of potential as far as character development, but they opted to go the safe route by sticking to traditional slasher movie formula.