'Venom: Let There Be Carnage' review: Let there be silence, please

Sequel to 2018 hit is a headache of a film.

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

It's unclear whether "Venom: Let There Be Carnage" is meant to be taken seriously, or how it's meant to be taken at all.

This cartoonishly bad sequel to 2018's "Venom" takes comic book movies back to the late 1990s, when they were completely dismissible and not the engine that singularly drives Hollywood. It's short, cheap looking and maybe made for 8-year-olds. It's only fun if your idea of fun is being screamed at by a demon voice while staring at a mishmash of special effects for an hour and some change. 

Tom Hardy in "Venom: Let There be Carnage."

Tom Hardy — somehow in on the joke, since he shares a "story by" credit here — returns as Eddie Brock, a journalist in San Francisco with a pretty wild monkey on his back. That's Venom, the alien symbiote who lives inside him and often juts out from between his shoulders, forming a tentacle like those water faces from "The Abyss." Venom is not as simple as the dark side to Eddie's light; they're tangled up in a slapstick buddy comedy that's also a rom-com that's also a horror movie. (Hardy also voices Venom, who sounds like Hardy's Bane sent through a satanic vocoder cranked to 13.) 

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Brock, who favors a Detroit Lions varsity jacket and a Mumford High T-shirt (shout-out to "Beverly Hills Cop") is sent to prison to interview Cletus Kasady (Woody Harrelson in a series of bad wigs), a serial killer who was introduced in the credits of the last film. Cletus rattles Eddie's cage, manages to bite him, and Eddie's blood awakens an even more vicious symbiote inside Cletus. Enter Carnage. 

So now we've got Carnage and Venom ready to battle it out, but first Venom and Eddie need to make up. See, there was a fight between them, Venom got sad, and then headed off to a rave and adorned himself in glowsticks and found his true self. "I'm out of Eddie's closet!" he bellows, if the story's queer overtones weren't already obvious enough. 

Things go crash in the cluttered, headache-inducing finale, which Michelle Williams is somehow caught up in, as Eddie's sort-of love interest, held over from the first film. There's some dot connecting that happens in the closing credits scene, which takes "Let There Be Carnage" where it needs to go, but man is it a pain getting there. Silence this monster.  



'Venom: Let There Be Carnage'


Rated PG-13: for intense sequences of violence and action, some strong language, disturbing material and suggestive references

Running time: 83 minutes

In theaters