Monday, September 16, 2013

Bereavement (2010) (Minor Spoiler Review)

**This review contains MINOR spoilers, but no major plot twists, or surprises are revealed in this review.**

It’s 1989, and within the small town of Minersville, Pennsylvania, a local recluse named Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby) lures a young Martin Bristol (Spencer List) away from his mother and the swing set in his backyard with the promise of a new bicycle. At the abandoned meat packing plant, where Graham worked with his father as a child, Graham forces Martin to witness his secret life as a serial killer, as Graham kidnaps, tortures, and murders young women within the plant. Too horrified to speak, and suffering from a rare condition where he’s unable to feel physical pain, Martin is forced into a life of being Graham’s pupil/assistant, as Graham continues his killing spree, while worshiping the skeletal remains in a shrine that include a bull’s skull.

Five years later, Allison Miller (Alexandra Daddario) arrives in Minersville to live with her uncle Jonathan Miller (Michael Biehn), his wife Karen (Kathryn Meisle), and their daughter Wendy (Peyton List). Allison is forced into her new life, because she had nowhere else to go after her parents were killed in a car accident by an SUV. Lonely and heartbroken, Allison forms a bond with a troubled local teen named William (Nolan Gerard Funk).

Meanwhile, Graham continues his secret life as a serial killer of young women with Martin at as his side. But moving on will be the least of Allison’s worries. One day, Allison accidentally spots Martin in the abandoned meat packing plant while jogging, and Allison’s curiosity will put her on a dangerous collision course with Graham.

Looking for a significant amount of spotlight on Michael Biehn? Don’t get your hopes up and don’t let the box cover fool you, because Biehn is the only actor with any real name value here, so they had to use the only form of star power they had to sell the movie. Biehn’s character is pushed into the background here, because the vast majority of focus goes to Allison, Graham, and Martin.

Daddario is believable in her role, as the lost teen, who’s looking for someone to bond with, and although he doesn’t speak a word here, List did a wonderful job of conveying his emotions through facial expressions (a lot of the cold, heartless stares towards the end) and body language. And Brett Rickaby is spot on as the delusional and bloodthirsty sociopath. Rickaby does a great job of selling Graham’s outrage (“WHO ARE YOU TO JUDGE ME!”) and his dedication to the shrine, and he’s able to convince you Graham is this delusional nutcase, who believes he’s doing the right thing (or a sort of cleansing service for mankind). Also, Bereavement is loaded with a handful of ear shattering scream queens (including Daddario). No joke, I had to turn the volume down a few times, because my ear drums couldn’t take it.

Writer/director Stevan Mena slowly merges both storylines together. On one hand, you have Allison trying to adjust to her new life, and move on after the death of her parents. On the other, you have Graham grooming and training Martin to be a cold-blooded killer. Mena does a good job of smoothly merging both storylines together, creating a hectic and suspenseful finale at the end. Plus, Mena deserves some credit for creating a few spooky atmospherics.

Of course, Bereavement isn’t perfect. One gaping hole in logic that bothered me, is how NOBODY in this small and quiet little town noticed the odd behavior of the creepy recluse, who drives around in a old, beat up black van. Still, Bereavement is a solid entry into the Indy American horror scene. Mena doesn’t go overboard with the blood, gore, and nasty stuff. He shows just enough to gross you out, and I usually appreciate this approach more, because this approach plays with the “OUCH! That had to hurt! Or “Wow. That must’ve been PAINFUL” side of your imagination.

Rating: 7/10

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