39: Malevolence

Malevolence – September 10, 2004
Starring: Samantha Dark, R. Brandon Johnson, Heather Magee
Written and directed by: Stevan Mena

The plot: “It’s ten years after the kidnapping of Martin Bristol. Taken from a backyard swing at his home at the age of six, he is forced to witness unspeakable crimes of a deranged madman. For years, Martin’s whereabouts have remained a mystery…until now.” – IMDB

My thoughts: I woke up yesterday morning and immediately turned this on, honestly kind of expecting some kind of torture-porn flick. I was pleasantly surprised when I didn’t have to deal with sick and deranged mutilating shots. Instead, I found out that I would be watching a movie that was part crime, part slasher.

I’ll start off by saying that Malevolence definitely borrows from other movies – in terms of plot, it reminded me a lot of Halloween (crazy young boy, screaming ladies, a silent killer in a mask, and a cop that comes to find that the killer might actually not be dead) and in terms of how it was shot, it reminded me a lot of Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the original, duh.) The colors were very muted with a lot of neutral colors. It was shot nicely, but still definitely very raw. It didn’t have a glossy look like most “horror” movies have nowadays (I’m talking the latest Final Destination or Japanese adaptation). It was gritty and real.

Despite being a cast of unknowns, the acting was pretty solid. I especially liked the one little girl in the movie (who was M.I.A for a large majority of the movie) who didn’t think twice about bashing the killers head in with various objects. Typically, in a slasher, I would be talking to the screen wondering how someone could be so dumb as to hide under the bed when really you should be climbing out the window (or something to that affect), but most of the victims were pretty tough in their attempts to escape the killer.

The score sometimes verges on being a little corny, but it’s still effective. Lots of shrieking violins and electronic “bwaaaah” sounds that definitely make you recoil – especially when you have headphones on at a rather high volume. Not so tasty for the ears.

While Mena offers up some new, unique takes on the slasher movie (a somewhat chilling reveal about the serial killer and stronger victims), he still reuses a lot of scenarios and scenes that anyone who likes horror movies will see more as “borrowing” or “copying” rather than “paying homage.” Also, the film tends to vary between effectively catching you off-guard with what’s happening on screen and sometimes seems more deserving of an eye roll. For instance, this will be a spoiler, at the end of the movie, the last two survivors (a mother and daughter) are laying in bed, trying to sleep after the horrific incident they managed to survive. After a somewhat cheap scare already (a dream sequence in which the mother encounters her daughter with a bloody face), the shot lingers on them before suddenly, the closet door beside them slides open a few inches and there’s a loud screeching sound. The only thing that scared me was the abrupt noise.

All in all, it was enjoyable. A lot of the characters teetered between “good” and “bad” so it kept you unbiased (but still interested) about who would make it out alive. On the other hand, it seemed a bit too familiar and was a bit too predictable for my taste. It’s visually interesting and the score is cool. Not too shabby.

Stars: 3.5/5

(A quick note. This is the middle movie, though first released, in a trilogy. The next released movie, Bereavement, is next for review.)

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