Friday, December 30, 2011

Money bags and Bagheads: Malevolence (2004)

Malevolence (2004)
rating: ***
starring:  Samantha Dark, R. Brandon Johnson and Heather Magee

A gang of bank robbers find themselves in a dire situation when one of them got fatally shot and another seemingly ran away with the money. Now under pursuit of the cops, the remaining robbers hijacks a car and held its occupants, a mother and her daughter, hostage in an abandoned cabin in the middle of nowhere as they wait for the other and plot what to do should everything fail.

Things further get complicated when the girl escapes and finds refuge at a nearby slaughterhouse which, unknown to her, is the dwelling place of a psychopath now well aware that there are people nearby for him to kill.

Overall, Malevolence is surprisingly mature for a slasher as instead of bombarding is story with cheese, shocking kills and annoyingly dumb victims, it focuses more on okay acting (for a set of no-names), an intense build-up and a workable story.

There's actually a lot of 80s feel to it with the entire plot resembling like a longer version of the first 15 to 20 minutes of Satan's Blade, boasting a grainy yet picturesque film quality, a lot of Halloween (1978) inspired cinematography and even some Mario Bava/ Dario Argento inspired colored lighting.

And then there's the pot-boiler pacing which I believe divided my reaction; for one, while the bank-robbery-gone-wrong meets psycho-slasher is a relatively new take for its time, at least two years prior to the better Euro-Comedy The CottageMalevolence fell a bit flat on making any impact since the story was kinda predictable and the seeing this is more of a tension driven slasher, it's a tad tedious even once the killings start. Thankfully some scenes worked well with the creeper pace, particularly involving people going through the isolated houses, may it be the robbers, the kidnapped family, or even the killer himself.

And speaking of the maniac, the killer here is what I can best describe as a homage to bagheaded killers like the ones at The Night Brings Charlie, The Town that Dreaded Sundown and even the first Friday the 13th sequel, though not overly impressive. What he offers in turn was the creep factor he possesses whenever he is in the scene to attack a victim which are, despite the lack of a kill count or creativity on his murders, visually impressive on their realism and even brutality.

He also has an origin that doubles as this film's twist reveal, which was unfortunately handled messily here (in vein of Psycho (1960) just to give a hint) but was further and well-explored in this film's prequel; not a lot to say about it in this film except that it was far from what I expected but it doesn't do much as an initial impact.

Malevolence has a lot of strengths which, for some, might also be its own double edge blade; the film can be an ingenious and original take on a slasher film that just goes to show that it can work without exploiting it, or, for those who prefer their bodycounting trashier, a chore of a movie. Still, as a slasher, it did something rather daring for its time when blood and guts are making a comeback thanks to SAW and Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake; it personally took a while for me to appreciate its attempts but in the end, I am impressed.

Worth a rent or a keep depending on your taste.

1 female stabbed with knife
1 male dies from gunshot wound
1 male stabbed with knife
1 female knifed to death
1 male skeleton found
1 female skeleton found
1 bloody corpse found
1 male shot
total: 8


  1. I'm totally with you on this one - picked it up at the local Blockbuster - saw all the great reviews - and then proceeded to watch and be completely unimpressed. It wasn't the worst I'd ever seen - but it in no way warranted all those glowing reviews either!

  2. I just don't get it, though, why the strong fan following? I have two female friends in deviantart, and they both martin fans...

    but seriously, eye slits?