Remember the date September 16, 2005. This was a horrible day for horror movies. In the same day, studios released three bad movies - Cry_Wolf, Hellbent, and Venom, the worst of the bunch. Venom is the latest movie that Miramax is dumping in theaters, and after watching it's easy to see why. This looks like a film that was thrown together at the last minute. Worse, it comes into theaters shortly after The Skeleton Key, which took place in the same area (Louisiana) and was kind of about the same thing (voodoo). While The Skeleton Key was not great, it is certainly much better than this unimaginative film.

It also makes one feel bad for Agnes Bruckner (Stateside, Murder by Numbers). Bruckner showed a lot of promise in the little-seen Blue Car, but after that, seemed to choose some really bad roles and/or movies. From certain angles, her face resembles Angelina Jolie's, so from a purely superficial perspective, she has what it takes to make it in Hollywood. As Erin, Bruckner is dealing with moving out of state for college, and the break-up of her relationship with Eric (Jonathan Jackson, Riding the Bullet, Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights). Bruckner works as a waitress in the diner of their small town, and is one of the few people friendly to Ray (Rick Cramer, The Battle of Shaker Heights, Showtime), the hulking trucker that is the town pariah.

Ray dies while trying to rescue a woman stuck in a car, teetering off the edge of a bridge. That woman was the local old crazy woman. According to her granddaughter Cece (Meagan Good, The Cookout, D.E.B.S.), she was also a voodoo priestess, and that something bad was in the car with her. Well, it turns out that Ray was resurrected as a zombie, and goes about seeking vengeance on all the annoying kids that happened to make fun of him. Which means that director Jim Gillespie (D-Tox, I Know What You Did Last Summer) has a demented Ray, usually glimpsed only in shadow, slowly murder Erin and her friends one by one.

Venom has too many things going against it. The story is not compelling, and neither are the characters. Good simply retreats to her grandmother's house and cries. The story, by Flint Dille (Dragonstrike, An American Tail: Fievel Goes West), John Zuur Platten, and Brandon Boyce (Wicker Park, Apt Pupil) leave too many things unexplained. At least the screenplay for The Skeleton Key made an effort to look into the world of voodoo to enhance the story, rather than using it as a crutch for badly executed killings. Everything is very dark, so it's hard to see the teens die off in killings that are not that gruesome or original. The worst aspect of this film is that it is not scary. It is dull, and it limps along until an equally weak ending.

Haro Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Rated R for strong horror violence/gore and language.

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