Venom: Let There Be Carnage Blu-ray Review

Not unlike its title character, the 2018 Venom film had a certain, inexplicable offbeat charm.

Tonally it took a while to find its feet, but once it did, the rest was a blast.

The sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, makes the ever-shortening transition to Blu-ray and DVD this month, and mostly leans into the wackiness which worked the first time round.

Boasting a welcome, yet suspiciously short run-time of 97 minutes, the film picks up about a year after the mid credits scene of its predecessor.

Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson) is an imprisoned serial killer who continues to give interviews to Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy), right up to his death sentence.

During one prison visit, Kasady bites Brock’s hand and becomes infected with the alien symbiote. As you do.

In much the same fashion that Brock became Venom, Kasady then becomes an entity known as Carnage, and escapes from prison.

Kasady’s main goal is to liberate his one true love, Shriek (Naomie Harris), who has sonic powers and is imprisoned elsewhere.

They reunite and embark on a bloody rampage.

Just call them Supernatural Born Killers.

Brock and Venom are meanwhile having domestic issues; Venom wants to eat criminals but Brock disagrees. The usual relationship stuff.

The two must ultimately put their differences aside to confront Carnage and Shriek, with a little help from Michelle William’s Anne Weying.

Andy Serkis takes over directorial duties from Ruben Fleischer and keeps the stakes refreshingly low: there are probably only six or seven characters in the whole film and the admittedly thin plot revolves around personal vendettas rather than universal destruction.

Joining Serkis, Hardy and Harris in the predominantly Brit-involved production, is Stephen Graham as the detective who originally apprehended Shriek and who is also on the couple’s kill list.

Harrelson, Harris and Graham are wasted, Williams feels like she’s there purely out of contractual obligation and story-wise it’s all over the place, but the Brock/Venom interplay is still amusing (I could watch Venom make breakfast all day long) and keeps the first half of the film mostly afloat.

Picture an episode of Channel 4’s Peep Show, only with a bloodthirsty alien symbiote instead of an irascible flatmate. More of that please.

The final part of the film is less satisfying, involving another nocturnal CGI smash-em-up (why are they always set at night) reminiscent of the 2018 film. It’s hard to work out what’s going on or, frankly, to care.

The sequel will largely please supporters of the first outing but won’t win any new fans; having ‘carnage’ in the title is a pretty effective audience filter.

Sony seem keen to make further sequels, but if every Venom movie descends into the same royal rumble territory then, much like the titular symbiote, the franchise will need to latch onto something bigger to survive.

Conor Brennan

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December 2021