Venom

Bad juju stalks a group of teenage friends in this cliched stalk-and-slash picture set in backwater Louisiana. Pre-med student Eden (Agnes Bruckner) is about to realize her dream of attending Columbia University in New York, but her boyfriend, Eric (Jonathan Jackson), doesn't understand why she can't just go to school in Baton Rouge — it's closer and they...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Bad juju stalks a group of teenage friends in this cliched stalk-and-slash picture set in backwater Louisiana. Pre-med student Eden (Agnes Bruckner) is about to realize her dream of attending Columbia University in New York, but her boyfriend, Eric (Jonathan Jackson), doesn't understand why she can't just go to school in Baton Rouge — it's closer and they could see each other on weekends as they'd always planned. They're arguing about it on a foggy bridge when elderly conjure woman Miss Emmie (Deborah Duke) comes driving out of the darkness as though the Devil himself were in her back seat. Next thing you know, Miss Emmie is dead and her car is headed for the bottom of the river, with tow-truck driver Ray Swayer (Rick Cramer) and a nightmarish tangle of writhing snakes inside. What was Miss Emmie doing with a suitcase full of snakes, all dug up from an isolated Creole graveyard, in her car? No one knows, but her pretty granddaughter Cece (Meagan Good), Eden's coworker at a local diner, seems even more scared than grief-stricken, and insists on being driven out to Miss Emmie's house in the middle of nowhere. By the next day, the rest of the gang is plenty scared, too. Ray's waterlogged corpse has vanished from the morgue; the coroner and a police deputy are missing and Eden could swear she saw Ray's one-of-a-kind tow truck cruising by the cemetery at the edge of the swamp. Could Ray have returned from the dead with murder on his mind, possessed by the souls of 13 killers and sadists whose souls Miss Emmie cleansed and trapped inside the bodies of rattlesnakes? Soon Eden, Eric and friends Rachel (Laura Ramsey), Ricky (Pawel Szajda) and Sean (D.J. Cotrona) — who has the misfortune to be Ray's illegitimate son — are hiding out at Miss Emmie's, wishing Cece had learned more voodoo tricks from her grandma, because the undead Ray is outside with a tire iron. Shot as "Backwater" and test-screened as "The Reaper," this film contains a couple of bracingly mean sequences, but it cleaves so closely to the slasher-movie formula that it can't muster up any suspense at all. Spunky Eden has "final girl" written all over her, and the endless scenes of victims-to-be cowering behind bushes or wandering around Ray's garage, oblivious to pond-size pools of blood on the floor until they slip in them, are just plain dull.

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  • Released: 2005
  • Rating: R
  • Review: Bad juju stalks a group of teenage friends in this cliched stalk-and-slash picture set in backwater Louisiana. Pre-med student Eden (Agnes Bruckner) is about to realize her dream of attending Columbia University in New York, but her boyfriend, Eric (Jonath… (more)

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