Directed by Michael Fredianelli [Other horror films: Xenobites (2008), The Minstrel Killer (2009), Apocrypha (2011), Coin (2012), The Devil in White (2014), The Enemy of My Enemy (2015), Strange Rituals (2017), The Woods of Purgatory (2018), A Killer Rising (2020)]
I will admit to being surprised by this one. Truthfully, I didn’t have high expectations going into the movie, and while Venom Coast didn’t turn out to be amazing, it definitely exceeded my personal expectations, and to an extent, sort of impressed me.
On the surface, it’s a pretty simple movie, which follows six friends being killed on an old ship by a demented family while on their way to Cabo (which I had to look up – it’s likely Cabo San Lucas, a popular city in Mexico for tourists). Mostly, these six friends are just horribly self-centered and wealthy, their only concern getting crunk. Because of that, a lot of the first half of the film can be quite a bit challenging.
I think that’s the biggest problem with the film. Of the six friends (names being Chaz, Perry, Elle, Eve, Emma, and Grace), only Grace is particularly sympathetic. Hell, Emma’s character isn’t even wealthy, but she has to be one of the most annoying characters I’ve seen in a movie in the last month. Because there were so few likable characters, there’s not much suspense, as we’re looking forward to them being hunted down rather eagerly.
The killers in question are one of the reasons I didn’t really think I’d care for this. Any movie that has a family killing together has it’s work cut out, and in many cases, such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Tokyo Home Stay Massacre, it entirely takes me out of the experience. Luckily, in Venom Coast’s case, while there are some stereotypical elements (such as a bulky, disfigured guy whom the mother consistently dotes on), I can sort of buy that they’re a functional unit.
The movie does take a turn about 45 minutes in. It’s not a negative or positive turn, really – at first, I had my doubts – but it was different, in that it introduced a five-member Coast Guard unit who noticed the ship and boarded it, weapons drawn, as the area is rife with piracy. Some of these individuals don’t last long, but others survive to the final scenes, some of which were oddly poignant.
Of the notable cast, I did want to mention the four young women, being Allie Coupe (Emma), Areyla Faeron (Elle), Kelly Ann Dunn (Eve), and Kylie Brady (Grace). Obviously, Coupe’s character annoyed the hell out of me, but she gave a good performance, and both Brady and Ann Dunn have some strong moments. Carolyn Ford Compton had some charm to her, as did Anthony Jan Potter. Serena Starks, while not popping up until later into the film, had some strong scenes toward the end.
Certainly Venom Coast is a lower-budget film, but as far as the kills went, I thought everything was pretty serviceable. Someone had their head bashed in with a hammer, another was killed with a golf club. A lot of stabbing went on, along with a neck that got twisted like zat, as my Beauxbatons homegirl said in Chapter 23 of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Oh, and another person killed themselves by slamming their head into a sharp, metal corner. None of the kills were overly gruesome or anything, but I definitely didn’t think any were bad.
There are times when the budget shows, and I think it’s most evident toward the end, which features a decent amount of gunfire, little of which actually looks good. I don’t hold it too much against the movie, but it needs to be said that at times, it’s not hard to tell this is a lower-budget film, which I know can turn some people off.
Another element I wanted to mention was the theme of economic disparity. Those six friends were all in a tech company that they started, a self-declared hook-up app for “influential people”, or, as one of the killers rightly described it, “an app for rich people.” These killers are poor, killing to bring some balance into the world. The reason is pretty shit, but seeing rich post-grads with rich parents trotting carelessly around someone else’s ship doesn’t endear me at all to them, and I sort of dug the addition of that theme, which is clear from the very first scene of the movie.
Overall, there aren’t really that many good horror films that take place largely on a ship, especially since I’m not a fan of Death Ship, Triangle, or Ghost Ship, so Venom Coast, while not a great movie, did sort of fulfill my needs. I tend to think it’s just a little below average, but as far as recommendations go, I’d certainly throw this one out there. Perhaps some would be just as pleased and surprised as I was.