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Home | Film Reviews | Film Review: Venial (2013)

Film Review: Venial (2013)

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In the aftermath of World War II, a woman finds out her husband has died in the war. She is devastated, and questions her strong religious tenets. Meanwhile she and her two children, who live in a very old house in the country, start noticing strange supernatural phenomena.


VENIAL is a melodramatic film from the get-go. It opens in a flurry of clouds, and Claire (Tiffany Browne Tavarez) walks through an orchard, brooding, her frumpy dress blowing in the wind. The scene then switches to a flashback of her husband and their children eating at the dinner table.

She’s in despair. Total despair. It’s 1945 and she has just learned her husband did not survive the war. Nevertheless, she attempts to continue on with her life, raising her two children, Peter and Helen.

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They live far out in the country, in a house that is very old (and creepy, of course). And, because this is a totally familiar horror plot, just as Claire begins to question her faith, sinister ghosts start to manifest inside the damned old, spooky house.

Just as things are starting to seem off, three priests come by the house to check in on poor Claire and the children. Whilst cleansing the house of evil, another ghost shows up. It’s someone the priest knew!

It turns out the house is some kind of vehicle for long-gone, nasty secrets—involving the dead—to re-emerge. Can our friends escape the old house’s death-dealing, spiritual tentacles?
VENIAL takes itself a little too seriously—enough to mostly provoke laughter. Okay, it takes itself entirely too seriously.


For one, the “period” seems a little confused, are just plain off. The costumes are not exactly accurate. They seem, at times, much older than postwar America. And speaking of America, who still had a British accent that late into the twentieth century? Because the two children are seemingly trying to talk like Mark Lester in OLIVER!

So, the period mistakes and the fakey British accents wouldn’t seem so ridiculous, if everything weren’t presented under the tone of such an urgent, devastating Gothic tale. The budget is too tiny to pull something like that off, unfortunately.


The acting also isn’t strong enough to make any of the characters identifiable. Claire, for instance, doesn’t even seem like a real person . . . not to mention the Jason Miller- and Anthony Hopkins-wannabe priests. Yikes. Just say,”the power of Christ compels you,” already.

The climax is muddled, too. At the last second the movie tries to break the formula, and it doesn’t seem all that radical. It seems confusing.

VENIAL is far from scary. And much of that owes to its special effects. One of the recurring ghosts looks a lot like Marilyn Manson—without his contact lenses. And at the “ghostly manifestation” scenes, it really feels like a cash-in on recent paranormal flicks like SINISTER and THE CONJURING.

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The stark atmosphere isn’t pulled off, either. It takes more than frowning people, crappy weather, and an old, creaking house for a set to create an affective mood. Regarding the film’s camerawork, too, it could have been much more adventurous. Lighting, also, could have done lots for the intended atmosphere. As with many low budget films—especially the colossally low budget films—it walks a fine line between being too ambitious, and not ambitious enough. It comes across as being heavy-handed without anything supporting its deathly serious attitude.

VENIAL is a sign, indicating the hauntings and supernatural subgenre is being overused. See it only if you’re ready for a real train wreck. It’s the antithesis of entertaining, and not in a Michael Haneke sort of way.


  1. Not an accurate review at all. Its almost comical, this review. I seen this movie at Sundance last year. its a very good Indie. i love how this site trashes independent directors. I have been seeing this allot lately. i think its time to switch sites

    • There is no directive to trash other films, merely you are getting the review and perspective of the reviewer who took on your product. With that said, we cant “usually” have a film reviewed more than once, though the comments are open to dispute it.

      Some of the greatest films out there were created by independent directors, so that is not a factor.

      yep you can “change” sites, that’s your option. however it doesn’t change the review of the film or others reading it

      hope that helps, Really, I wish that every film presented was a masterpiece, it would make our viewing of 50 films a month a little easier on us

    • Steve, I have to disagree with you here. You say “i love how this site trashes independent directors.” My friend, that is so far from the truth. I have over 150 reviews on here, probably 98% of them independent directors and writers. And in 100% of my reviews, I point out how I actually give independent studios and films and books a little extra leeway because I understand there are not working with a multi-million dollar budget. Most of the other writers on here have similar sentiments. So I’m not sure where you’re getting this idea.
      I’m sorry you disagree with this one review. But that’s what is exciting, to see how Ross Peterson’s opinion is different from mine or Joel Davis’ or Trish006’s. This site is run by people who love horror movies, we’re not making money doing this. We’re doing it because it’s fun. Don’t take a little criticism so hard.

  2. I wonder if “Venial” did any paid advertising on this site. I heard that these sites will give good reviews if you buy advertising. So if they didnt buy anything from horrornews.net they would get a bad review. At least this is what I heard. trailer looks good I would see it.

    • Not true ( I cant speak for other sites though)

      Venial didn’t advertise, and most reviews go thru outside reviewers, so there is no bias/relationship with advertising to review. Though with that said, you’ll find that often reviewers have different perspectives…so its really up to the perspective of the one reviewing it. We get reviewers the product and publish what reviews they return.

  3. Trailer looks amazing. I’m going to see it. Will write again afterwards

  4. Someone needs to re-review this. As I must agree the review does not do the movie justice nor is it accurate. I disagree that it is not scary. The movie is creepy as heck miday to the end and horror flicks is all that I watch. Also the online trailer I seen said World War 1. Those uniforms are exactly from that period.

    I do respect movie reviewers but they should really take the time to look at a movie before they post the wrong things for everyone to see. I wouldnt call it a “Bashing” review but its not accurate by any means……