I'm a little late on renting this one. Bereavement is a prequel to 2004's Malevolence, a gritty throwback to minimalist slashers. I dug Malevolence. In fact, I think it's one of the best straight-up "body count" flicks of the past decade. While I'm satiated on origin stories (not everything needs to be explained away), I was curious to see how writer/director Stevan Mena was going to embroider his indie hit. How was he going to distend his killer's childhood? For the most part, I'm content with the answers I found. Bereavement spells out a haunting, monopolizing origin story...for Michael Myers. I'm not whistling Dixie. Sure, I manage a reputable barbershop quartet (we are currently fielding offers from major labels), but I do not deal in mendacity.
As far as the plot is concerned, this would have made for a bitchin' prequel to Halloween. The Akkad clan had their chance to annotate The Shape's seemingly innate iniquity. What did they come up with? The fucking Thorn cult. A few years ago, the pumpkin-scented baton was passed to Rob Zombie. What did he come up with? I still don't know. But this Martin Bristol fellow, he has more in common with John Carpenter's Boogeyman than any recent "interpretation" of the Shatner-masked phantom stalker. I realize that wasn't Mena's intention, but that's what I want to talk about. Hey, it's my review. Moving on to pinker pastures, Martin was born with congenital analgesia. In layman's terms (I keep forgetting that I have to talk down to you plebeians...this is a heel promo, by the way), he can't feel pain.
Martin's condition works as a metaphor. When he is abducted by a moonstruck schizoid and forced to watch unspeakable murders, he learns to intercept emotional pangs before they affect him. Simply put, he doesn't feel anything. That's why he reminded me of a young Michael Myers. The kid doesn't react to being stabbed, for shit's sake. He is groomed to be heartless, inhuman even. Why couldn't this be Rob Zombie's Halloween II!??!!? Okay, it's time to assess Bereavement on its own merits. I prefer Malevolence, but this is a solid motion picture. It abdicates the standard slasher formula. If I had to toss it into a specific subgenre, I would label it - and this pains me to no end, believe me - torture porn.
We get A LOT of screaming and supine, agonizing death sequences. Bereavement is definitely a modern horror film. Now, that's both positive and negative. Positive because this is a gory, creepy affair. Negative? Eh, the production values are too clean. The heroine is profoundly stupid. I mean, she's dumber than the semen stains on my WWE-themed sheets (shut the fuck up). The climax is nearly pauperized by her inexplicable actions, which include instructing her 5-year-old cousin to go upstairs in a burning house. Thankfully, the cast is up to snuff. Michael Biehn hits all of the right notes as the concerned uncle. Alexandra Daddario's cleavage is stunning. Her performance might have been convincing. To be honest, I wasn't really paying attention.
Seriously, her boobs should win a Grammy, an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony award, a free bag of pretzels out of a vending machine...um, Bereavement is worth a rental.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:09 PM