Horror review: Malevolence



Ya gotta like DIY horror filmmakers such as Stevan Mena, who not only wrote, cast, directed, produced, edited, acted in, and scored the horror flick Malevolence but even did the catering.

You don’t have to pretend to enjoy the result of their low-budget indie efforts, though.

Although Malevolence displays some crisp camera work from cinematographer Tsuyoshi Kimoto and a promising performance by little Courtney Bertolone, the biggest shock this old-school 35mm slasher entry provides is the fact that it didn’t go directly to video. The really scary part is that it’s meant to be the middle of a three-part trilogy!

The movie kicks off with a sickening scene in which a bound teenage girl gets brutally murdered in front of a bound and gagged six-year-old boy who has been abducted and brutalized. After that demented display, the action shifts ahead 10 years, where one of the perps of a botched bank robbery kidnaps an SUV-driving mother (Samantha Dark) and her adolescent daughter (Bertolone) so he can rendezvous with his accomplices at an abandoned house in rural Pennsylvania. Little do they know that there’s a knife-wielding maniac in the neighbourhood, one whose housekeeping skills would make Leatherface wince.

At about this time, Mena starts pulling out every horror cliché in the book as his hooded, unstoppable killer sets out to methodically exterminate the entire amateur cast. The director’s main source of inspiration is obviously Halloween, but he doesn’t display any of the finesse of John Carpenter. There’s one scene where reluctant robber Julian (R. Brandon Johnson) is freaking out at his girlfriend over the bank job’s skimpy haul, and just as he backs around a table, Mena’s incidental score loudly kicks in, as if to signify something scary. But you’re hard-pressed even to notice the hooded figure now peering through the window out back.

Apart from that glaring misstep, there are flaws that even the most budget-challenged films should avoid. Here’s hoping that if Malevolence II and III ever get made, the overworked Mena finds the time to check for such slip-ups instead of sweating over which flavour of Hamburger Helper to serve the crew.

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