Film Review: Bereavement (2010)

Bereavement is a rare film experience spewing with brutal beauty that leaves the viewer wanting more. I finally got a chance to check it out...only to end up enjoying the hell out of it.

The film was released back in March of 2011 in such a limited fashion...I was wondering if I would ever get a chance to see it. Then, it sort of fell off my radar all the way until it was released onto DVD in the fall. I immediately purchased it and decided to watch it later that night. Then, Halloween came and Film Deviant got really, I ended up watching it last night. I really should shoot myself in the left neck...because I should have gotten in my truck and driven to New York City when it was first released there last Spring. The film is that good...ok, maybe not that good...but I don't know how I ever bought the film and sat on it for a month before finally watching it. I tell ya...I'm such a doofus sometimes.

For the Stevan Mena fans out will surely recognize Bereavement as the prequel to his first film, Malevolence...a solid little study on what Martin Bristol likes to do for fun - kill random strangers. Bereavement takes place back in 1989/1994 and explains how Martin got to be the killer that he is.

You see...back in '89 Martin was just a fun little kid playing on his swing set while his mommy discussed with a potential caretaker the specifics on her son's ability to not feel any kind of mortal pain. It is during this little discussion that Graham Sutter comes over and kidnaps little Martin and takes him along into his sick world of killing random young women and talking to the voices in his head. Poor Martin.

It's interesting, because it's sort of like the Star Wars of serial killer movies...except with more grue and tied-up screaming girls. Graham is sort of like Obie-Wan Kenobi...teaching young Martin the ways of the psychopathic serial killer. Only...Graham talks to cow skulls and punches young the face. I don't think Kenobi ever punched a young girl in the face. Although, I wouldn't be surprised if George Lucas CGI'd a scene into the old Star Wars where Obie-Wan talks to a Jar Jar Binks skull.

Anyway, the film has a surprise appearance from veteran John a wheelchair. I feel like every time I see John Savage he's in a wheelchair. Not that there's anything wrong with's just that it seems that he favors wheelchairs for some reason.

Michael Biehn squints alot. He's in the film playing a badass uncle ready to kick some serial killer ass at any given moment. Only...he doesn't kick any ass...other than some young dude with good intentions. In fact, we've arrived at my biggest problem with this film. Michael Biehn is a cinematic presence. He is the type of actor that if you are able to cast him in your should use him to his fullest potential. Robert Rodriguez understood this philosophy and utilized him excellently in Planet Terror. He was awesome in that film. Here...he is just relegated to lots of driving around in his old pick up truck and carpentry work. And when the time comes for his character to kick in a door and punch a serial killer in the teeth...he is ultimately squandered. Why would you do this, Stevan Mena?? Why??? You could've had the guy do something truly badass in the film. Missed opportunity.

Alexandra Daddario is also in the film.

Ok...we're gonna play a little game now. Tell me the first thing that comes to your mind when you take a look at this next picture...

Did you think of  butterflies...or koala bears? No...I'm pretty sure you didn't. I'm pretty sure the first thing that popped into your mind was Alexandra Daddario's tig 'ole bitties, which is an element that Mena understands all too well. Tight fitting white tank top + Mammoth-sized breasteses + A meat locker = Horror cinema at its finest. Oh...Daddario is also a good actress...when she's not jogging or bitchy-looking...or both.

Anyway...where was I? A kid gets kidnapped, he learns how to be a deranged serial killer and pretty young females get themselves killed. Oh...

The film looks fucking amazing! Although the budget for this film was only a couple million dollars...that's almost double what Malevolent cost to make and Mena makes use of the cinematography so beautifully. There's some really nice expansive shots of Allentown, Pennsylvania and should cinematographer Marco Cappetta ever retire from the genre...he could make a decent living shooting tourism promos one day. Cappetta should seriously be billed as one of the stars in the film because his keen eye is one of the key ingredients that makes the film stand out as it does.

Man...I don't know about you...but, I could stare at those things all day.

Spencer List delivers a fine performance as young Martin Bristol. He spends the entire film acting out scenes with mood and body language. At his young is impressive to watch this kid act without saying a word. Yet, you feel his whole performance just the same and you relate to his story through the fear in his eyes. He's pretty much the stand out in the film.

Bereavement is a solid horror film with decent acting and good story-telling. It comes from a writer/director at the start of a promising career and stands as one of my favorites of 2011. It's a beautiful looking film full of tragedy and despair and is very content in showcasing Daddario's breasts for much of the running time without actually pulling them out...a truly impressive feat.

3.5 out of 5

Thanks for reading,