Not a film within the horror genre, but simply a horror: An intense feeling of fear, shock or disgust (mostly the latter). And not in a good way, either.
As a fan of superhero and horror movies, I was hesitant about watching Venom, which is a Spider-Man movie by Sony Pictures… that was filmed without the webhead. It makes absolutely no sense from the get-go. In fact, the entire movie felt like watching an unofficial spin-off, which was only made in hopes of cashing in on a ’90s comic book antihero… and hoping that Marvel Studios would collaborate with Sony once more in a sequel and validate this film.
So, this is an origin story for Eddie Brock (uniquely played by Tom Hardy). Basically, the character is a loser. The movie got THAT part right. He not only loses his job due to his stubborn pride, but also his girlfriend (Michelle Williams), who also gets fired because of his actions. Brock’s not in a good place when the symbiote Venom absorbs into his body.
First of all, the character design of Venom makes no sense to be black with white eyes, as that originally came from Spider-Man’s black suit in the character’s first appearance of Marvel Comics (look out, Secret Wars!). Since there is no Spider-Man in this studio’s shared film universe and because Marvel Studios is in no shape or form involved with this film — there’s no real reason for Venom to look like Peter’s black suit, as he’s never worn it in any of the Sony movies.
There’s internal struggles by Brock, fighting Venom and his self-destructive ways. Then there’s the literal struggles fighting another symbiote. I’ll save the details from the non comic-book crowd, but I will add there’s plenty of horror movie elements that were used in the production of the film. Apparently, this was originally intended to be rated R, but was toned down for a PG-13 rating. With so many curse words, it feels nothing like any chapter within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And reportedly, there’s quite a few really violent scenes that were cut in order to become more family friendly.
Whenever the creature appears onscreen and talks, the animation for moving its mouth (and its unnecessary extra teeth) never quite syncs with the words that are spoken. That’s a problem, although nitpicky.
Fans who watched the film’s teaser trailer were originally up in arms about how the actors pronounced the word “symbiote.” A colleague told me after the film that apparently the dialogue was dubbed with a more appropriate pronunciation. As I hate to watch practically every trailer in existence before seeing a movie (they ALWAYS give away major spoilers), I can’t speak to this scenario specifically, but I was slightly annoyed with each attempt to say the word by each actor.
And lastly, Tom Hardy movies seem to be more successful as a direct correlation to his dialogue. The less he speaks, the better the box office receipts (hello, Mad Max: Fury Road). Here, he’s so weirdly talky with a strange accent (probably his regular voice)… it’s not good. Kinda like a Keanu Reeves scenario: Place the actor within a major action film and give him very few words to say, there’s a great chance the movie will become successful (bring on John Wick 3!). We shall see if this happens.
Unfortunately, if this movie is successful, there will be more villains and supporting characters within the Spider-Man Universe that will spawn more unofficial Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Remember when everyone was up in arms about Sinister Six being a Spider-Man-less spin-off around the time The Amazing Spider-Man 2 was released? I didn’t like that rumored scenario either. Supposedly, Sony was so pleased with Director Ruben Fleischer’s film that he was rewarded with the upcoming sequel to Zombieland. Now that’s a movie I’d love to see him turn into an R-rated masterpiece.