Directed by: Jim Gillespie

RUNNING TIME- 85 minutes

Starring: Laura Ramsey, Jonathan Jackson, Meagan Good, and Rick Cramer as “Ray”

THE PLOT:

A pack of teenagers run for their lives through the swamps of Louisiana, as they are chased by Mr. Jangles, a man possessed by 13 evil souls who is relentless in his pursuit of new victims.

THE REVIEW:

Backwoods, Louisiana. A small southern town who’s recent high school grads can’t wait to get out of once summer is over. A town who’s chief resident is a Mambo Voodoo Priestess.

Over her many years she has performed ceremonies over the dying bodies of the meanest, cruelest men alive, so that their souls could be cleansed upon death. The evil that was taken from them was put into a small suitcase which she buried on hallowed ground years ago.

Now excavation has begun on the burial ground, so she digs up the briefcase and places it in the back seat of her car so she can rebury it at another site. But as she crosses a bridge, she runs into “Ray”. a harmless, scarred local tow truck driver that the town considers an embarrassment, but who is really a decent person. Also on the bridge are two kids who had left the diner. The Priestesses car is ready to fall off the bridge and Ray pulls her out but she moans for the suitcase. As he goes back for it, the case open, and numerous snakes bite Ray as the car falls into the river. Both Ray and the Priestess die.

But Ray isn’t dead. The snakes were the souls of all the evil the Priestess had captured, and he has turned into an inhuman zombie-like creature, who seeks revenge on a town he feels done him wrong.

The casting of this film is better than your average slasher, filled with likeable, believable characters. Backwoods, a fictional town, is a desolate, bleak town that you would expect voodoo to run rampant. As more of the townspeople are killed, the now inhuman Ray grows stronger, and it’s up to the young people, one the grand-daughter of the Priestess, to stop him.

The special effects and gore are kept to a minimum, and Ray’s make-up in the shadows for most of the film. Elaborate as he turns out to be, you can swear you’ve seen the monster in another film. The killings are also uneventful, slashed throat, spears with chains, nothing inventive here.

The back stories of the characters are panned out more that usual here, but add nothing to the story. There is a common issue between one of the youths and Ray, but that subplot is not played out and I feel the film would had been better if it was made more of the plot instead of a throwaway item.

You can do better than Venom but you can also do worse. It’s a good rental, no major special features on the DVD. Very good widescreen picture quality.