GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by Thomas R. Clark: Venom: Let There Be Carnage

Venom: Let There Be Carnage
2021 – PG13 – 1 hour 37 minutes

Director: Andy Serkis
Screenplay Writer: Kelly Marcel
Story Writer: Tom Hardy

Stars:
Tom Hardy
Woody Harrelson
Michelle Williams

Eddie Brock attempts to reignite his career by interviewing serial killer Cletus Kasady, who becomes the host of the symbiote Carnage and escapes prison after a failed execution.


Why VENOM LET THERE BE CARNAGE is the Cosmic Horror Super Hero Movie We Needed This Halloween Season

I love cosmic horror and all things related, complete with tentacles. The science fiction aspects of the horror genre are gateways to twisted aliens, elder gods, death cults, abominations, and a whole lot of insanity. I’m fascinated at how cosmic horror’s tropes can weave their nefarious tendrils into non-science fiction properties. It meshes well with folk horror, for example. THE RITUAL, Adam Nevill’s excellent novel and subsequent film adaptation, is a great example of this mash-up. Comic Books, and superheroes in particular, are also riddled with cosmic horror elements.

The Marvel multiverse is filled with Cosmic Horror, and the current Phase 4 appears to be going all sorts of Lovecraftian. There have been a few attempts to translate these horror elements in the past, and not all of them have been successful. Going back as far as HOWARD THE DUCK, (YES – I invoked HOWARD THE DUCK) in which the “Dark Overlords of the Universe (aka ELDER GODS) want a piece of the earth, we’ve seen a cosmic horror element in Marvel properties on film. Most recently, Josh Boone tried (and failed) to bring the horror of mutants into a then FOX film, with THE NEW MUTANTS.

With the creation of the Multiverse, it only makes sense some of Marvel’s true Cosmic Horror entities make their way to the forefront. Take the alien symbiote, VENOM, for example. You cannot deny the cosmic horror origins of the character. His first film outting was in Spider-Man 3, the overbooked and underwritten finale of Sam Raimi’s trilogy. SONY’s decision to bring a revamped incarnation, the anti-hero Venom has become in the decade since, proved to be wise. The 2018 film, albeit flawed, made a mint in the pre-pandemic world. Tom Hardy’s reimagined Eddie Brock is the perfect likeable sad sack. And his dual role as the brain eating symbiote lured viewers in and promised a sequel featuring a showdown with one of Venom’s greatest adversaries: Carnage.

And we were all ready to get it in 2020… until the Pandemic hit. We were forced to wait an entire year, with the date getting pushed back and forth as studios tried to adapt to the difficulties of the pandemic. The date of 10/1/21 turned out to be more perfect than we could have imagined. Why, you ask? Because it’s the start of Halloween Movie season for many horror fans. And what could be better than shape morphing aliens chomping off peoples’ heads?

Oh yes, VENOM LET THERE BE CARNAGE, although mostly bloodless, is a PG-13 superhero cosmic horror delite. After a seriously scary prologue featuring teenage Cletus Kasady in a mental institution, the new movie moves to where the last film ended, with Eddie being summoned as the chronicler of serial killer Kasady’s final statements before being put to death. The homages to Silence of the Lambs are not forgotten, and used as catalysts to move the plot forward.

Yes, I said plot.

You see, unlike the previous VENOM entry, this movie actually has a story and a plot. At a brisk 96 minutes, director Andy Serkis wastes no time getting down to business. Kelly Marcel, co-writer of the first Venom, brings a solo screenplay full of chills, thrills and laughs. But in the end, it’s Woody Harrelson, doing his best Nicholas Cage overacting, and Tom Hardy’s charisma that make this movie leaps and tendrils better than the 2018 film. There are plenty of heads eaten by bad guys and anti-heroes, and more than enough one-liners to make you giggle like a 5th grader.

I hope we get an R-rated home release with some blood and gore in it at some point. You see, on a written page, the VENOM films would be extreme cosmic horror novels, complete with as many mind fucks and brains sucked out as any book from the genre. I’m a believer the more extreme aspects of horror can be mainstream, it’s in the manner you present them. And doing so through a superhero property is an easy way to do it. Godless has seen great success with their Splatter punk anti-hero line, GODLESS LEAGUE, which includes characters as diverse as John Baltisberger’s vengeful Rabbi, STABBERGER, and Drew Stepek’s head squishing buzz topped DOZE.

The only thing I didn’t care for was the mid-credits scene. It felt like a shoehorned cop-out, but I digress in my search to find something in the movie that didn’t work. Make no mistake about it, VENOM LET THERE BE CARNAGE is a horror film. It’s the perfect start for your Halloween and a welcome entry into the modern era of the Marvel Multiverse and superhero movies.


Boo-graphy:
Thomas R Clark is a musician, writer, and podcast producer & engineer. He is the author of the 2021 Splatterpunk Award Nominated BELLA’S BOYS, GOOD BOY, and THE DEATH LIST – published through Stitched Smile Publications, and the forthcoming THE GOD PROVIDES, from St. Rooster Books. His short fiction collection, A BOOK OF LIGHT AND SHADOW is available through his personal imprint, Nightswan Press. Tom’s journalism has appeared in Rue Morgue, This Is Infamous, and House of Stitched Magazine. He lives in Central New York with his wife and a trio of Jack Russell terrier companions.

The God Provides
The foothills of Upstate New York are alive with something terrifying. It hunts, it tempts, it traps, and there’s no escape. Thomas R Clark re-invents Irish Mythology and takes you on a bloody, emotional, and horrific journey back through time with the tale of the McEntire clan, and the devastating secrets they hold. The author of the Splatterpunk Awards nominated Bella’s Boys: A Tale of Cosmic Horror has crafted a story that’s part The Wicker Man and part Cycle of the Werewolf, but at the same time like nothing you’ve read before.

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