I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Stevan Mena, the director, writer, and producer of Bereavement.  This is the second film in the Malevolence trilogy, with his previous efforts including Malevolence (2004) and Brutal Massacre: A Comedy (2007).

During our interview, Stevan and I got to chat about the actors in the Bereavement, plans for the third film in the trilogy, and a bit about Mena beyond the limelight.

**Spoiler Warning: This interview discusses elements of Malevolence that would be considered spoilers to those that have not seen the film. **


For anyone who has seen Malevolence, you probably expect that Bereavement would follow suit in brutality and anguish. While Bereavement continues to pack the ferocious nature seen in Malevolence, one thing it adds to the mix is character growth. Not only does the viewer get more insight into the enigma that is Martin Bristol, but we actually have deeper connections between the characters in general.

There were some heavy hitting actors that really brought out their craft in Bereavement, including Michael Biehn (Aliens, The Terminator) and breakout star Alexandra Daddario (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D, White Collar). Each character shined in their own light; however, I think the star of Bereavement was Spencer List. At age thirteen, and having as many movies under his belt, the future is looking pretty good for Mr. List.

Steph: All of the actors in Bereavement were great and very sympathetic, but Spencer List, who plays young Martin Bristol, was absolutely brilliant. Without even having any speaking lines, he was really convincing. He’s such a young actor, and I see he’s already working on his 13th role, what was it like working with him?

Stevan: Spencer really was brilliant. My hope is that he gets the recognition that he deserves for playing such a difficult role to show emotion. He’s a fun and cute kid with a great work ethic and intensity level. He has an amazing future ahead of him.

Steph: Was there any sibling rivalry between Spencer and his twin sister Peyton, who plays Wendy in the film?

Stevan: Yes! Spencer really wanted to kill his sister on screen.


Bereavement takes us into the life of serial killer Graham Sutter and the abducted child,  Martin Bristol. In Malevolence the viewer identifies with the victims, hoping for their survival; but Bereavement presents us with a relatable killer. You may actually find yourself rooting for the “bad guy” this time around. More important though, is finding out about Martin’s disease, CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain with Anhidrosis).

Steph: Martin’s diagnosis of CIPA makes him a more believable character, why did you want the audience to sympathize with him?

Stevan: There are several levels for the introduction of Martin’s CIPA. The disease CIPA reinforces the myth in Sutter’s brain, helping him to kill. Sutter had trouble with the slaughter of animals for the family business and was told that they didn’t feel pain. If Sutter can believe that humans don’t feel pain, he won’t feel as bad killing them. Martin can’t feel pain because of CIPA, but Sutter can’t understand that. Instead he wonders why this happens.

I was also inspired by the old slasher films of the 70’s where serial killers could be shot or stabbed and still come after you. With CIPA that would actually be possible. Although the scenes shot dealing with Martin’s disease are excruciating, I do want to point out that the actual CIPA disease is very much more tragic than could ever be put on film.


Although Bereavement comes second in the series, it is actually the first chronological installment in the Malevolence trilogy. This characteristic of the grouping has worked to its advantage so far, especially by playing with the audience’s moral code. Without giving too much away, Bereavement as the second film in the story sequence makes everything a little more surprising while keeping the audience informed.

Steph: For the people who have never seen Malevolence would you rather them start with Bereavement or Malevolence first and why?

Stevan: First off, I think both films are able to stand on their own...

Steph: I agree.

Stevan: I purposely filmed these movies “out of sequence” to give the viewer a bigger scare factor in both movies. While you could potentially watch them in order, if you see Bereavement first, you lose the shock of Malevolence. 


I definitely agree with Mena. While the viewer will still become enveloped in Malevolence’s story line, you'll know what was coming in the back of your mind through the whole movie. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but for maximum enjoyment and scares, you should absolutely watch Malevolence first. After you’ve watched both films, you will find yourself wanting more. Specifically, you’ll be wondering how soon you can get your hands on the third part of the trilogy.

Steph: What are your plans for the next part of the trilogy?

Stevan: I can’t give anything away! We will address the question of evil within characters. We’ll see how Martin goes through a lot of emotionally distressing and symbolic moments. The viewer will also get some answers regarding the question of Martin’s silence.

This next segment will be much more fast paced, suspenseful, and action oriented.

Steph: Will the third part of the trilogy be your next project, or are you working on something else?

Stevan: I had started working on another project, but all I can say about that is that there were some complications. The final part of the trilogy is now my next project.

Steph: Is the script finished yet?

Stevan: It’s been ready for about six years now.

Steph: Wow. So any idea when you are going into production?

Stevan: We’re currently in the pre-production and casting stages.


Knowing that the script for the final episode is complete and casting is on the horizon, I’m getting really excited for whatever Mena gives us next. Hopefully it will be here sooner than later, considering that six years passed between Malevolence and Bereavement.


One of the best parts of interviewing Stevan was his easy-going and open personality. Going beyond the details about the movie, Mena answered some of the more personal questions I had for him. It seemed like there weren’t any questions that he wouldn’t give me some sort of answer for. It was a real joy to speak with someone so down to earth, candid and relatable.

Steph: What was your favorite moment while filming Bereavement?

Stevan: Oh, that’s an easy one. My favorite moment filming was during a scene between Spencer and Brett Rickaby. It was in this scene where the chemistry between Brett and Spencer really came out and I knew how the dynamic the movie and filming would evolve. It was really exciting.

Steph: I heard a rumor about some crazy stunt scene done by one of the abducted actresses, could you elaborate?

Stevan: Yeah, on her first day of filming she was hanging on an actual meat hook. She was only supported by a small harness. All her stunts were real, I had to ask my lawyers  about her. On top of everything when we were filming her scene it was like zero degrees, I can’t believe we pulled it off.


Mena is involved in just about every aspect of his filming process, Bereavement was no exception. Watching Bereavement, knowing how much of himself Mena put into the film, made it seem more like a unique piece of entertainment art than just "some movie".

Steph: You’re a man of many trades: composer, director, writer, producer, editor and actor. . . Did I leave anything out?

Stevan: Yeah, I make coffee, too.

Steph: What’s your favorite production medium?

Stevan: I’d have to say editing. Directing and producing are fun, too, but with editing you really get to sit down and put all the pieces together. When you’re at the editing stage, all the work is over, and you get to make art. That’s when you get to put the magic in the film.

Steph: Do you have any other interests or hobbies that we might see pop up in your next films?

Stevan: Well, as a composer, I really enjoy music. Both playing and writing. I also like to spend time with my family.

Steph: Oh, do you have any kids?

Stevan: Yes, two girls.

Steph: Do they like your movies?

Stevan: They’re both too young to watch them yet. One of them is in Brutal Massacre, though. The little girl on the swing in the koala scene.

Final thoughts:

As the interview was wrapping up, I had time for just a couple more questions. Taking a small step away from Bereavement, I thought it’d be important to learn about Mena's inspirations.

Steph: Here’s a tough one: What’s your favorite movie of all time?

Stevan: That is tough! I’d have to go with Twelve Angry Men. If the world blew up and aliens landed on our crumbling planet... If the only thing they were able to find that represented the human species was Twelve Angry Men, they’d be set.

Steph: I’m out of time and those are all the questions I have for you today. Is there anything else you’d like to tell Daily Dead readers?

Stevan: Yes! I would tell them thank you for their support, to keep watching indie films and Don’t Pirate.


Interviewing Stevan Mena was a blast, and I look forward to talking with him again in the future. Mena is involved in just about every aspect of his filming process and it's unbelievably impressive just how much time and effort Mena devotes to his movies. After reading this interview, I hope that you give Bereavement, Malevolence, and Stevan Mena a moment of your time. Bereavement will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on August 30th.