Today: April 15, 2024

Bereavement

Selected at random, 6-year-old Martin (Chase Pechacek) is kidnapped from his backyard by sadistic, deranged, serial killer Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby)

Selected at
random, 6-year-old Martin (Chase Pechacek) is kidnapped from his backyard by
sadistic, deranged, serial killer Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby
). Victim of a rare genetic defect that means
he simply doesn’t register physical pain, Martin is imprisoned by Sutter in the
old, derelict slaughterhouse the Sutter family once operated in rural
Pennsylvania where he is forced to witness and, eventually, participate in all
manner of sickening horrors as Sutter grooms him to be his heir.

Missing, believed dead, Martin’s whereabouts remain a
mystery for 5 years until 17-year-old Allison (Alexandra Daddario), recently orphaned by the death of her parents,
moves to the area to live with her Uncle Jonathan (Michael Biehn) on his neighbouring farm. A cosmopolitan city girl, life in the sticks is something of
a culture shock for Allison. A
talented athlete and long-distance runner, she finds that in Hicksville she’s
expected to get with the programme and join the cheerleading squad like a good little
girl while her over-protective uncle is none to thrilled with her taking up
with town bad boy William (Nolan Gerard
Funk
). As she adapts to her
surroundings, Allison becomes curious about the old Sutter place and the
solitary young boy (Spencer List),
11-year-old Martin, she glimpses there.
Suspicious, she decides to investigate and, when she tries to speak with
Martin, she sets in motion a violent and terrifying chain of events, forcing
her into a bloody fight for survival as Sutter tries to claim her as his next
victim…

Treading similar ground to Jennifer Lynch’s stunning, disturbing Chained (slated for a cinema release sometime in the New Year) but
in a much more generic fashion, writer/director Stevan Mena’s Bereavement
is a harsh, nasty, formulaic little slasher flick. A prequel to his earlier (better) low-budget shocker Malevolence, it’s a cruel,
by-the-numbers exercise in cynicism which borrows from Frailty and The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre
to produce a would-be disturbing little slice of American
Gothic that’s actually quite boring even when it’s puncturing pneumatic chests
with phallic knives.
Leisurely-paced and atmospheric, the film has a streak of sadistic
misogyny running through it that’s just unpleasant while its surprise twist is
blindingly obvious and telegraphed well in advance.

The acting is decent without being particularly stunning
but it’s hard to care about any of the characters who are pretty much all as
dumb as cattle being led to slaughter.
The scenes involving Sutter and his perverse pseudo-religious world of
angry, antlered, scarecrow gods are good, creating an ominous atmosphere of
doomy dread which edges right up to the lip of being genuinely disturbing but,
just when it appears that Bereavement might actually take you somewhere
unexpected, it falls back on predictable, tried and tested, slasher movie
clichés to deliver a bleak, manipulative piece of feel-bad cinema.

Gory, repetitive and uninventive, Bereavement is a banal little shocker that ultimately fails to
satisfy.

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