Monday, September 16, 2013
Bereavement (2010) (Spoiler Review)
**This review contains spoilers**
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. A prime example of a spooky setting would be Martin’s dream of finally escaping Graham. Martin is running for his life, until he stops in an open field. Martin stops in his tracks, when he spots the bull skull shrine Graham worships in the distance….and the bull skull quickly turns to make eye contact with Martin. After that, Martin snaps out of it, and he awakes in the real world. Eerie stuff.
Truth be told, I wasn’t too crazy about Bereavement, until the finale started to unfold. Don’t get me wrong, I was enjoying Bereavement, but nothing blew me away. But when Allison decides to go after Martin inside the meat packing plant on a rescue mission, I was hooked in, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. Graham eventually returns, captures Allison, and congratulates Martin for the setup. Allison is locked inside a freezer, and it looks like William is about to rescue her…..but Graham sneaks up from behind him, and bashes William’s head in with a shovel.
Back at the Miller household, Graham decides to tie up any loose ends by burning down the house with the Miller’s dead bodies inside, so no one else will suspect anything fishy. After she escapes the meat packing plant with Martin, Allison tries to call 911, while the house is burning….but Martin pops out of a closet, and he brutally stabs Allison to death. Mena deserves credit for this genuinely surprising swerve, because I can honestly say Martin killing Allison caught me off guard. You could see Martin turning on Graham coming from a mile away, and he did (Martin kills Graham at the end), but killing Allsion? No way. I mean, it’s only natural to believe this young kid would be overly grateful for the savior, who FINALLY rescued him from the clutches of the madman, who traumatized him and ruined his life, right? That’s why Martin killing Allison was such a huge shock, because logic leads you to believe Martin wouldn’t hesitate to leave a life of murder and torture behind him.
My only complaint about the finale is Michael Biehn’s unceremonious death. Jonathan goes to Graham’s house to find Allison after she disappears. Graham denies ever seeing Allison, but Allison screams for her uncle. Graham gets a shotgun, and he kills Jonathan by putting a giant hole in his chest. Jonathan’s end was so abrupt and out of left field, and Biehn easily receives the most underwhelming and disappointing death in Bereavement.
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.
Both ebooks are back with new covers!
Looking for a change from Batman, Spider-Man, and Iron Man? Then get know the world's newest superheroine Freechelle Fantabulous for only $0.99 by following the link- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EFLI6VK
Or take a trip into world of madness that includes comedy, horror, and the supernatural in my book of short stories, also only $0.99- http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00EFMYZ0U
Follow me on Twitter here- https://twitter.com/LQuigleyFan1
And don't forget to like both of my Facebook pages, because the Mitch MacReady 2 Facebook page includes quotes from both ebooks that can't fit into Tweets-