October is now upon us, which means it’s time for horror films to hit the theaters. A time for monsters, ghosts, and psycho-killers to stalk the screen. A time for viewers to leap out of their seats and drop their popcorn. So, why am I reviewing what looks to be a superhero movie? And a Marvel one at that? Well, that’s because “Venom” is not your typical superhero story. “Venom” is both a superhero movie and a horror movie.
The story follows Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), an investigative journalist operating in San Francisco. Eddie’s life has fallen into a downward spiral after one bad mistake leads to losing his job, his home, and worst of all, his fiancée Anne Weying (Michelle Williams). After spending several months trying to get back on top, he’s given an offer he can’t refuse when he’s asked to expose Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed), the CEO and founder of a bioengineering corporation known as the Life Foundation. According to Eddie’s source, Drake has come into possession of parasitic aliens known as Symbiotes, and has been testing them on humans in an attempt to create a symbiosis between the two.
During his investigation, however, Eddie becomes exposed to one of the test-subjects and is infected with a symbiote. As Eddie falls ill, he feels his grip on his sanity wane as he soon hears a voice in his head, a voice that only refers to itself by one name: Venom. With the symbiote now infecting his body, Eddie is left with no choice but to try and work with the ravenous Venom and stop Drake before he tears San Francisco apart in his pursuit of the two.
Though the “Marvel” name is attached to “Venom,” do not confuse this for another movie in the Marvel Studios catalog. You won’t need a glossary to figure where in the cinematic universe this film takes place. “Venom” is a fresh start and a standalone film from Sony Pictures, the same company that made the original “Spider-Man” films.
Believe it or not, this is not the first time Venom has appeared. An attempt was made to bring the alien symbiote to the big screen in 2007 with “Spider-Man 3.” Unfortunately, the film was met with mixed to negative reactions, which not only killed off the chance of more films involving Venom, but literally ended the Toby Maguire Spider-Man series. It’s been eleven years since then, and despite selling the Spider-Man movie rights over to Marvel Studios, Sony is once again throwing their hat into the ring. This time, however, by going in a different direction with a new film based around a unique character that, until now, has gone ignored by even Marvel Studios.
“Venom” is a movie that has the feeling of a sci-fi/horror narrative. The overall film is like a cross between John Carpenter’s “The Thing,” James Cameron’s “Aliens,” and “The Wolf Man.” A non-violent and practical character becomes infected with an entity that turns them into a violent and voracious monster. The character’s body, mind, and life soon spiral into chaos as he/she struggles to find a way to deal with the entity within before those around them are endangered, or before someone even more ruthless tries to take the entity for their own nefarious purpose.
While it all sounds like a simple idea that’s been done before, it’s a simple idea that I think works for the movie. It’s nothing too complicated, and doesn’t take the viewer out of the action. Yes, despite its dark and sometimes morbid tone, the film does possess plenty of action, and even has a sense of humor.
Though Venom is no hero, in fact, he blurs the line between an anti-hero and neutral rogue, it’s always a blast whenever he’s on screen. Even when we’re just hearing his voice in Eddie’s head, it’s still fun and even creepy at times. Despite being an alien parasite, Venom does seem to possess a personality of his own as he comments to Eddie on the world around them. Which makes for some interesting, and sometimes hilarious, banter between the two. Which is made even more fascinating when you realize that Tom Hardy plays both Eddie Brock and the voice of Venom. So, it’s Tom Hardy driving Tom Hardy crazy—kudos Mr. Hardy!
Another thing I love about the movie is the overall design of Venom. It’s both interesting and simultaneously creepy, while feeling true to the original character. However, I feel like the character’s appearance might be a bit too frightening for younger audiences. In fact, the entire movie feels like it’s really stretching the limit of a PG-13 rating. One major critique I’ve seen from other reviewers for the film is how edited down it feels.
“Venom” was obviously intended for an R rating, but was changed for a PG-13 rating so the film could be viewed by a wider audience. It’s sort of like if you took the original “Aliens” and edited out the blood. You’re still going to get a creepy movie, just with fewer scenes of gore. Though, that still doesn’t mean we don’t see some rather explicit and outright creepy scenes.
“Venom” is rated PG-13 for language, along with intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action. Despite a rough start, and some questionable decisions regarding its rating, “Venom” is a fun and enjoyable, but dark film—which is a good thing. It’s refreshing to get a superhero film that’s more of a grim monster movie, instead of the usual good-natured and action-packed ones that are beginning to oversaturate the medium. Here’s hoping Sony continues to do more with the Venom name in the foreseeable future before they decide to sell him off to Marvel Studios. The final score for “Venom” is an 8 out of 10!
Marco Island resident and avid moviegoer, Matthew Mendisana is a Lynn University alumnus. While he possesses a bachelor’s degree in science, it’s the arts that attracted his attention. In his four years at Lynn, Matthew managed to achieve Magna Cum Laude status, earn three publications in the Lynn University magazine, make a short documentary featured in the university’s Film Festival, and created a radio PSA that was later broadcasted overseas.