Review by Jude Felton
In 2005, April to be precise, Stevan Mena’s debut movie was released onto DVD. Being as though at that time I lived in the UK I had to import myself a copy from the good old US of A. It was money well spent, with the movie being an excellent blend of slasher and crime thriller all washed over with a gritty old school horror movie feel to it.
It has been a long six years since then waiting for Bereavement, which is a prequel to Malevolence. Yes we did get the horror/comedy Brutal Massacre, which was a great fun watch, but I wanted to see more of the story of Martin Bristol and how he evolved into the killer that he is. So then, Bereavement has finally got its release (it also had a limited theatrical release in March 2011) and I will tell you right now that it was well worth the wait. Malevolence was a good film, Bereavement is an excellent film.
In Bereavement the then 6 year old Martin Bristol is happily playing in his backyard whilst his mother is giving instructions to a prospective babysitter about Martin’s inability to feel pain. Before you can say “Watch out, he looks like a kidnapper!” Martin is enticed away from his swing and taken from his mother. As if this is not bad enough young Martin has hit the criminal jackpot; not only is he kidnapped but his abductor is also a serial killer. This ends up with Martin bearing witness to all manner of heinous crimes involving young women. Five years later and teenager Allison moves to the country to live with her Uncle Jonathon after the death of her parents. It is whilst she is there that she thinks she spies a young boy in an abandoned looking building while out jogging.
Bereavement takes familiar elements that have been used before in horror flicks and turns them on their head creating an incredibly intense and often quite harrowing master-class of horror. This truly is an uncomfortable film to sit through in places. The death scenes are savage without being explicitly gory; it is quite often the implied violence that hurts the most in this film. Don’t be under any illusions though, this film may be released with an R rating but I guarantee it pulls no punches. In fact the only thing about this movie that was censored was the accompanying artwork; the original art showed Martin holding a knife.
The whole look and feel of the film is one of isolated suffering, every character in the movie is coming to terms with some sort of pain, with some being more physical than others. This is another area where the film excels though, and that is with the cast. Every actor seemed to nail their respective roles, although I will single out Spencer List as the young Martin, who although he has no spoken lines still manages to deliver an incredible performance. Aside from writing, producing and directing the movie Stevan Mena also provides the excellent score that accompanies the action onscreen.
With all this praise surely there must be one negative aspect to the movie? The only thing I had a slight problem with is that some of the characters make some dubious decisions that may have you shouting at the screen. However, that will not take away from the fact that this movie will still surprise and even shock you at times.
Bereavement is quite honestly an excellent movie that shows a true progression from Malevolence. It is dark, violent and shows no remorse, watch it at your earliest convenience.