Friday, July 13, 2012

Movie Review: Bereavement (2010)

I am slightly uncomfortable about going into my review of Bereavement still a little unsure about how I really feel about it, but there was something going on with this movie that I really enjoyed and thought warranted some attention here. It seems at first to be a tad redundant and formulaic (even though it is much more stylized than similar films), which made me think that I knew exactly where the story was going. However by the end, I was nowhere near where I thought I would be, and that surprise makes me want to give Bereavement at least some props.

In a small town in Pennsylvania, a young boy named Martin is kidnapped by a brutal and psychotic serial killer, Sutter, who is intrigued by Martin's strange demeanor and decides to keep him in order to teach him his killing ways. Five years later, teenager Allison is sent to live in the town with her uncle's family after her parents are killed in a car accident. Allison's curiosity about the abandoned meat plant where Martin and the killer live soon turns about to be a very grave mistake.

Okay, so the reason that I'm not sure that I completely like this film is simply the fact that I don't get the film. I don't get what it's saying or what the point of the whole thing was at all. Mostly, I don't get what was up with Sutter and just what he was trying to "teach" Martin. Basically he is your average psychotic killer spewing out quasi-religious ramblings to a large steer skull hanging on the wall, but why don't we get any kind reasoning behind all this? What the hell is he talking about? I'm at a loss, really.

Well, as it turns out, that just may not be my fault. Not only do the filmmakers make no attempt to give even a fleeting explanation for Sutter's behavior or psychosis, they also fail to mention in their limited advertising that this movie is actually a PREQUEL. It's a prequel to a movie called Malevolence, in which Martin is the main killer, and Bereavement exists as a sort of origin story for Martin. And get this: creator Stevan Mena told everyone when Malevolence came out that the movie was intended to be the middle part of a trilogy. So he makes the second movie first, doesn't make the first movie until six years after the second movie, and as of this date, still has not made the third movie. Does this make any sense? How can we as an audience be expected to follow a story like this? I'm confused.

Putting all that aside for now, I'm still thinking that Bereavement is a pretty good movie for what it is. The actors are all a bunch of unknowns (except for the one woman playing the aunt who I totally recognized from an episode of Law and Order: SVU because I am obsessed with that show) and they're not horrible. Alexandra Daddario is definitely watchable and a pretty natural actress, not to mention that she has the most amazing eyes I've ever seen. I would say that the little boy playing Martin is also really good, except for the fact that he doesn't have much to do other than stand around and look slightly menacing for 90 minutes. 

The gore scenes are not too shabby. There is lots of great use of practical effects and in-your-face blood, especially toward the end when you consider just which characters are becoming the victim of this violence. What you think will happen and who you think will survive is drastically different than what actually occurs - which I of course now know is because this movie is a PREQUEL - but it makes for some pretty shocking revelations the first time through. Anyway. Gore is good. There is one great yet horrific death scene where a girl is hooked through the knee with one of those giant meat hook things, then hoisted up and pulled into a room where she ends up hanging over a very large pillar of fire. I can't think of anything that would suck more than that right now.

So despite the fact that the whole movie is slightly pointless on its own and hard to understand, Bereavement is an okay little horror flick. I might give Malevolence a chance now just to see what kind of killer Martin turns out to be but hopefully this little trilogy will feel more complete when it's actually, you know, complete. 


  1. Yeah, saw Malevolence years back - wasn't impressed. Now, hearing they've kind of bungled the connective tissue between the two movies - not impressed. I'll wait till that third movie's out - then probably skip it in a bout of non-impression.

  2. the hand-stabbing scene was a total shock to me! I really dig this more than I did for Malevolence!

    Did you say it's supposed to be a trilogy? sweet! Can't wait for the finale!

  3. Been meaning to check this movie out for a long long time. Glad to hear it's not crap. Nice write-up.

  4. yay! nice to see some love for this underappreciated masterpiece. I'm already soooo fuckin' excited for the 3rd part.

    Hope you'll check out Malevolence soon. Not as great as Bereavement, but still pretty cool

  5. You say all the actors are unknowns but the uncle is played by Michael Biehn!!

  6. I love horror films but this film was to much for me mentaly I didn't like how the kid had to see so much stabbing and women brutal killed. It made me want to jump into the tv and safe the kid I know it's just a film but for these types of films why do they have kids in these t films it's not healthy of a kid his age to be in brutal film as I worked in films like this actors and actress if they playing difficulty role they get the support or councilling and you imaging this kid .if you know what I mean

  7. I think the element that even a girl who loves horror will be put off by in this masterpiece is the utter misogyny. Clearly, Sutter hates women and believes they should suffer. That's a crippling element as many critics and viewers hold such a premise, even in a horror movie, in contempt when taken to this extreme. I can't think of a horror movie where a woman utterly hates men, but I'm sure there are a few.