There are plenty of movies that show what it's like to be the parent of a missing child. Take movies like Ransom (1996) and Taken (2008), for example. These stories might be so common place now that we’ve become numb to them.
But what about a movie focusing on the kid who has been taken away? Stevan Mena’s Bereavement takes on the concept of growing up under the ever watchful eye of the serial killer captor, Graham Sutter (Bret Rickaby The Crazies 2010).
Martin Bristol (Spencer List Offspring, The Orphan Killer) is just like any other kid, except for the fact that he can’t feel pain. He requires an aid who checks him every hour for cuts, scrapes even broken bones; so when Martin’s mother looks outside to see an empty swing set she doesn’t just worry about his safety, she worries about him staying in one piece. Sutter on the other hand, worries about why Martin can’t feel pain. Does this mean Martin’s soul is clean? Do all human beings have the chance to become immune or absolved of worldly torture? If that’s possible, does that mean his victims might not feel pain? If they don’t hurt, can Sutter be forgiven?
Martin stays with Sutter, obeying his every whim. Instead of bargaining for his freedom, Martin doesn’t utter as much as a single word. He also stands within eye’s reach when Sutter murders his victims, even letting Sutter cut him in front of the next to die. What’s going behind those innocent eyes? Is Martin thinking about being back home with his mom and the swing set that betrayed him, or is he thinking about what it would be like to be the one thrusting a knife into the arteries of another human being?
Unbeknownst to those around them, Sutter and Martin live as a tragic version of father and son. When new girl Allison (Alexandra Daddario The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3D) moves into town, her fresh eyes are the ones to first pick Martin out of a crowd. Will she be able to save Martin, or does Martin even want to be saved at all?
Created as the prequel to Malevolence, Mena’s Bereavement showcases his growth as both a writer and a director. Malevolence, while still an interesting and entertaining movie on its own, does not live up to the standards in acting, plot and character development brought in by this second installment of the series. Bereavement, even though it’s a prequel, should really be watched after Malevolence in order to keep the sanctity of the story line and keep the viewer on the edge of their seat. You can never be sure what’s going to happen next in this film.
I was really impressed by the growth that Mena makes to the film in the years between Malevolence and Bereavement. Not only was I able to relate in some small way with each of the characters, but I found myself rooting for both the victims and the killer. That’s the mark of a really great movie, when all the characters are so well rounded, it’s hard for the viewer to choose one over another.
As for the disc extras are concerned, there are several special features to make note of: director’s commentary, deleted scenes, theatrical trailer, behind the scenes, a TV spot and a film montage accompany the regular bits of scene selection and subtitles that would be the bare bones minimum seen on other discs. The Bereavement extras are what all films should include in their special features.
If you like to watch slasher films, you should find Bereavement to be a great movie, but the brutal nature killings and violence directed towards Martin may be too much for some viewers. If you can look past the viciousness, however, the cruelty adds a lot to the depth of the characters and movie plot. I would also recommend Bereavement to anyone who’s seen Malevolence, whether they liked Malevolence or not, simply because of the great improvements found in the second installment of the film series.
Film Score: 3.5/5 Disc Score: 4.5/5
For more information about Bereavement, please take a look at our exclusive interview with Stevan Mena: http://dailydead.com/exclusive-interview-director-stevan-mena-talks-bereavement/