Friday, December 30, 2011

Before the Malevolent took over: Bereavement (2011)

Bereavement (2011)
starring: Alexandra Daddario, Spencer List and Brett Rickaby

Someone thought it was a good idea to follow up the cult-favorite DTV horror flick Malevolence from Anchor Bay. Well, it was, but after that mixed feeling I got on the first, I had my doubts.

Knowing what a half and half decent dreck the first film was, I had a lot of questions going through my head: was I about to watch a serial killer raise a kid to be his prodigy? Am I that desperate to see that? I'm wasn't...but I ended up seeing it anyway to see if there are any improvements.

Bereavement tells the story of how young Martin Bristol became the killer featured in 2004's Malevolence; the first half of the film jumps back and forth between two focused characters, one being Bristol, taken under the wing of a serial killer, Graham Sutter, who's targeting young women and offering them to a Scythe wielding figure whom he fears.

The other focus was on Alison, a young orphaned teenager who moved in with her uncle's family in the same town where Graham's committing his crimes. We follow her as she adjusts to her new life and even find a new found lover whom her uncle doesn't seem to be fond of.

The Martin and Alison's paths got entwined one day when Alison saw Martin inside the slaughterhouse and, upon following, got captured by Graham. When she fails to return home, her second family and her boyfriend decided to look for her, only to meet a grisly end on Sutter's hand one by one. It's only a matter of time before he finishes off what is left of Alison's loved one, but what does this all mean from Martin's point of view?

While you can see the ending from far away, Bereavement sports a jagged raw edge that's missing from the first installment. The first's sluggish pacing is still present, dragging us with are its prolonged family drama-meets-coming of age elements that stomped a few scenes dead and, at times, felt unnecessary. Thankfully, the story is more complex and intriguing that it's worth sitting through for the fiery climax, giving us the same grim and sullen atmosphere that the first film was best known for.

A lot more thought is put through this one, making it more of a psychological character study, taking a look on a psychopath's work and the things he's willing to do to make his prodigy just as "successful" as he is. There were no twists or shock scares, just a brooding, grim horror flick that tries to amp itself a bit from its "parent" movie. To simply put, it's a prequel film that does what most prequel movie should be doing: explain.

And explain it did, details and all. The introduction of the killer responsible for the masked monster in the future, Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby), who shockingly resembles Jame Gumb from Silence of the Lambs and whose past abuse under the hands of his father made hinted on his constant rambling and physical abuse to young Bristol. He goes as far as cutting the boy's cheek or pinning the boy's hand to the table with a knife (!) to make a point; disturbingly, he shows a lot of characteristics to known serial killers like Ted Bundy and Ed Gein as well as cinema monsters like Maniac's Frank Zito and Francis Dolarhyde from Red Dragon. Young Martin Bristol (Spencer List) also has an unpleasant presence everytime he's on-screen as we see him slowly transform into a scared little boy to a hardened killer a young age. It wasn't too long before he starts to do away anybody with a knife or an axe. (An improvement seeing it even dished out a more creative set of kills compared to the original)

Still a slow-burner, but at least a decently crafted psycho-thriller at that, Bereavement is a step up from where I'm standing. It still has a long way to go, perhaps some decent editing, or rather a better set of murders would do the trick. Depressing? Well, I've seen more depressing shit (Super? Cold Fish?), but yeah it is. Gory? Messy. Good? Almost.

1 female gutted with knife
1 female had her legs hacked off with machete, mostly offscreen
1 female burned alive in incinerator
1 female gutted with knife
1 male shot on the gut with shotgun
1 male bludgeoned to death with shovel
1 female stabbed on the chest with kitchen knife
1 female knifed to death
1 girl killed offscreen with knife
1 male hacked to death with axe
total: 10

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