Is Going Full Horror The Right Direction For “Venom”?

Matthew Loffhagen
Sony
(Photo: Sony)

Finally, we get a proper look at the “Venom” superhero horror movie. Tom Hardy’s acting pretty hard here opposite a blob of alien goo.

The new trailer features a lot of footage from scenes that we’ve already seen, but crucially, they now have the special effects added in.

Why Sony thought it was a good idea to show off this film before putting the titular Venom effects together is beyond me. It’s almost as if the studio is trying to rush this movie out for some quick profit without much consideration for its quality.

But surely Sony would never do something like that, right?

Regardless, the trailer is here, and we can see what Tom Hardy is going to be doing in this film.

It’s another weird voice. Not necessarily Bane weird, but certainly very offputting.

Everything about Hardy’s performance here feels awkward. His attempt at creating a soft-spoken New York reporter to balance out Venom’s dark, homicidal side doesn’t entirely land for me.

Sitting on the Fence

Just as Hardy seems to be walking the line between paragon and full-on monster in this trailer, I feel like the tone is bouncing between comic book and horror.

This is definitely a horror film. Lots of big, scary moments where powerless people are trapped alongside unspeakable evil. Screaming; crying; anger. Body mutations, and plenty of teeth.

This is a horror film.

But it’s also a comic book superhero endeavor. A power fantasy.

The audience is supposed to empathize with Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock, who is a much nicer guy than he’s ever been in the comics. We’re meant to feel a sense of catharsis when he starts threatening to eat a robber’s arms and legs.

This is meant to be funny.

It is not.

Eddie Brock
Source: Sony

I think this is the big problem at the center of the “Venom” movie trailers. The studio wants to sell us a terrifying horror film about a man who loses control. But, the film is also about the thrilling joy of being able to stand up to criminals.

Hence: a wisecracking Venom.

In fairness, this is pretty accurate to the character back in the ‘90s, when he regularly had his own comic book series.

It’s also worth noting that none of these comics were actually any good. Venom works better as a villain than a twisted antihero.

So while “Venom” may be trying to walk the line between horror and comic book heroism, I can’t help but feel that this entire endeavor would have worked better as a straight up horror film. A story of revenge and hatred in which a more morally complex lead character feels themselves slipping away into darkness.

Venom Fight
Source: Sony

Put simply, this movie looks like it’s going to be a difficult watch – and not just because seeing two symbiotes fighting looks suspiciously like an overly busy battle from a “Transformers” movie.

Straight horror might have worked. A superhero movie might have worked too. Neither would have been stellar, but they would at least have justified the creation of a feature film.

Mixing the two genres together, though, feels like it’s going to end poorly.

Based on everything I’ve seen of this, I’m not exactly going to be rushing out to see “Venom” on the opening night.

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