A young boy with a distressing tolerance to pain has been kidnapped by a sadistic killer. Five years later, Allison (Alexandra Daddario) moves in with her uncle (Michael Biehn) after her parents die. Yet, all is not what it seems in town and as women begin to disappear again, Allison gets curious about the young boy and his guardian whom she sees at the local farmhouse.
Michael Biehn appears to be reinventing himself as a Grindhouse aficionado since his hugely entertaining turn in 2007’s Planet Terror (read our interview with him here). Creating his own film company with a specific aim to release grindhouse pictures (its first product being The Victim), it would seem the man who was Corporal Dwayne Hicks is happy to spend the remainder of his career making the films he enjoys.
Yet if there was any enjoyment to be had whilst making Bereavement, there’s little to show for it on screen. This is not to say that the film is bad, however, there is a muddled tone here that detracts from what could’ve been an interesting serial killer film.
The film itself is grisly, and, much to the enjoyment of this writer, it refuses to pussy foot around its subject matter. The best and most effective horror movies utilise the genre as a spring board to ask some interesting and often troubling questions. The fact that Bereavement strives for this (it asks the questions of whether you are born evil or you become evil over time) is admirable in its own right, even if it is met with limited success. By its end, there is a feeling of being put through the wringer. There is no denying this is a bleak, bleak film.
Unfortunately, the problems lie in the execution (excuse the pun). Whilst there is enough to admire, one can’t help but feel that the film could be tighter, more pacey and a little less droll. To complain that a horror is too droll may seem inconsistent, but there is literally not a single happy character to be found and, as a consequence, when our heroes start dying, there is little to be shocked about. The emotional investment is not there, with scenes filled with depressed people that you wish would just lighten up.
There is potential in director Stevan Mena, unfortunately, on the back of this film, he is yet to reach it fully.