MONSTERZERO NJ’S 10 REASONS THE 2010s WAS THE DECADE OF INDIE HORROR!
Maika Monroe’s Jay screams at an entity only she can see in It Follows!
The past decade was a very good time for horror fans as there was quite a resurgence of the popularity of fright flicks and thus more movies produced. This and the emergence of some new indie studios and distributors, like A24 and IFC Midnight, as well as, new crowd funding methods to get filmmaker’s films financed, especially impacted independently produced horror. To illustrate this delightful proliferation, here are ten indie horror flicks, each representing the year they were released, that prove the 2010s was the decade of indie horror!
Teen Leah (Nicole Muñoz) unleashes something she can’t control in Pyewacket!
This newest installment of Halloween Hotties features a new final girl on the block who appeared in her first horror flick in 2018 and made quite an impression! With the release of Stevan Mena’s long awaited Malevolence 3: Killer, we were introduced to this fresh face in the role of the film’s heroine, Ellie!…And this actress got our attention! Without further ado…MonsterZero NJ’s Halloween Hotties rookie of the year 2018 is…
Katie Gibson is new to the horror movie scene, making her final girl debut in Stevan Mena’s Malevolence 3: Killer. While she had a vocal part in Mena’s Bereavement, this is her first starring role and she made a strong impression. Her Ellie was a very likable character, resilient, smart, compassionate and when serial killer Martin Bristol comes knocking, she responds with some knocks of her own. We can only hope that if Mena continues the franchise, Katie is along for the next installment…or Malevolence 3: Killergets her enough attention for future roles in other projects. Attention she deserves! We can’t wait to see more of this talented and beautiful young actress!
Katie Gibson gets to try on a classic slasher trope as she watches her young neighbor!
Ellie finds out something is very wrong as Martin Bristol returns to his former home.
Ellie risking her own life to protect her young neighbor, Victoria (Victoria Mena).
Can Ellie turn the tables on a killer?
Katie’s got talent and a girl-next-door presence that made her a natural for this type of role. Mena has a gift for picking good final girls, as Alexandra Daddario served final girl duties in Bereavement and hot mom type Samantha Dark was a strong heroine in the original Malevolence. Hopefully actress Katie Gibson and director Stevan Mena will both be working on new projects soon!
(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)
After Bereavement, writer/director/editor Stevan Mena decided to go back to basics with the third installment of his Malevolence franchise by not only returning to a more classic slasher format, but by independently financing the film. Tragedy struck his production, though, with only 75% of the movie finished, when actor Scott Decker sadly took his own life. With little money for re-shoots, the film went on hiatus for two years until Mena’s passion and perseverance found a way to finally finish it. Malevolence 3 now sees it’s release on home media and video streaming right in time for Halloween! 🎃
Malevolence 3: Killer opens with the final scenes of the first film…remember, Bereavement was a prequel…with serial killer Martin Bristol (Jay Cohen) escaping into the woods. Martin, in true Michael Myers fashion, returns to his childhood home town and begins a killing spree. He leaves a trail of bodies as he returns to the house he was born in, which is now home to pretty student and musician Ellie (Katie Gibson) and her roommates Tara (Kelsey Deanne) and the vivacious Lynn (Alli Caudle). Drawn to the three girls, Martin begins stalking them, killing anyone who crosses his path. All the while Agent Perkins (Kevin McKelvey) is hot on his trail in hopes to stop Martin before he kills again.
Malevolence was a solid slasher homage giving us elements that evoked both Halloween and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Bereavement was something all it’s own with a portrait of a deranged killer (Brett Rickaby) teaching his grim trade to kidnapped little boy, Martin (Spencer List). With the third installment, Stevan Mena returns to a more traditional slasher film with the adult Martin paying his home town a bloody visit and a trio of young girls picking the wrong house to preside in. As such, Mena crafts another solid slasher flick much on par with his original. The film doesn’t quite have the emotional resonance of his creation of a serial killer prequel, though there are some scenes with Martin’s grieving mother (Ashley Wolfe) and grandmother (the legendary Adrienne Barbeau), which work nicely on that level. In most slashers if the killer’s mother is still alive, she’s usually portrayed as equally deranged, so this was a nice change and added some depth. Most importantly, the film does do what it’s supposed to do and does it well. It’s paced much like the slashers of the early 80s with a moderate burn till the last act. There is some traditional skin shown by it’s lovely cast and the kills are bloody and brutal, yet grounded, so they keep their impact and avoid the outlandishness of many other slasher franchises. Mena’s killer is effective and needs no mask to elicit chills and his prey are a likable group of girls and neighbors, so we feel for them. When that last act comes and Martin and Ellie throw down, it’s intense and bloody as Agent Perkins closes in…but will it be in time? On a technical level Mena’s shots are excellently framed, that and his cinematography evokes Carpenter and Dean Cundey in the very best way. The film looks very good for a low budget flick and except for a few shots of Katie Gibson’s hair changing length a bit, there is really no evidence the film had such a troubled production. Again, a filmmaker’s passion and perseverance found a way to complete his vision.
Cast-wise Mena hits a home run with the casting of Katie Gibson as Ellie. Her Ellie is sweet, strong and a very likable young lady. She is also tough and resilient when Martin finally moves in for the kill. She’s a great final girl in every sense of the word and even gets to play a variation of the traditional babysitter, when, thanks to Martin, her young neighbor Victoria (Victoria Mena) finds herself all alone. If Stevan Mena continues this franchise or makes another horror film, I hope he brings Gibson along. As Martin, Jay Cohen is an imposing figure. He doesn’t speak, but isn’t hidden behind a mask, so the actor has to display his cold blooded-ness with only his eyes and facial expression and he does so very well…and remember, Martin also has congenital analgesia, so he can’t feel pain. Kevin McKelvey returns for his third go as Perkins and fits the mold of the “Dr. Loomis” of the film. He’s tough and strong, yet there is also compassion, as he recognizes that in some ways Martin is just as much a victim as he is a killer. This touch helps Perkins avoid being a stereotype. Barbeau is effective in her few scenes as Martin’s grandmother, as is Ashley Wolfe returning as Martin long-suffering mom. In support, Alli Caudle and Kelsey Deanne are likable as the saucy Lynn and studious Tara, respectively and it is sad Scott Decker was not able to complete his role, as Agent Roland is a likable character with, unavoidably, too little screen time. RIP.
Overall, this was a solid slasher and another example of Stevan Mena’s love of the genre. IMO Bereavement is one of the best horror films in the last ten years and Mena wisely doesn’t try to replicate it. Sequel instead returns to basics to display the results of Graham Sutter’s (Rickaby) work in Martin. It has a moderate pace echoing it’s influences and delivers the goods from some bloody kills to a resilient and very endearing final girl. Mena overcame some heavy obstacles to complete his trilogy and one hopes the trilogy becomes a series and Malevolence 4 will be a smoother production and come sooner than the eight years between these films. Mena is yet another filmmaker people need to be talking more about and another example that you can get your film made!
F.Y.I. Malevolence 3: Killer is available for streaming on Amazon and iTunes, or you can order the complete trilogy on Blu-Ray from Amazon.com and Walmart.
Over two years ago disappointing news came for fans of writer/director Stevan Mena and his Malevolence and Bereavementfilms. Due to the tragic death of a major cast member, production was halted with only 75% of the film completed and a lot needing to be re-shot. Recently, Stevan Mena was able to complete production and now the film is finished and a trailer has arrived!
Over two years ago disappointing news came for fans of writer/director Stevan Mena and his Malevolence and Bereavementfilms. Due to the tragic death of a major cast member, production was halted with only 75% of the film completed and a lot needing to be re-shot. Recently there seemed to be movement on the Malevolence 3 Facebook page and IMDB updated their Malevolence 3 page to list it as “completed”. As a big fan of the first two films, MonsterZero NJ reached out to director Stevan Mena himself to get an answer…and here is that answer directly from the keyboard of Stevan Mena!…
The rumors are true, I’ve been hard at work these past 9 months re-shooting and re-cutting the film. It’s not what it could have been if Scott Decker were still alive, but it’s finished. The budget was none so I’m doing everything myself, which is taking forever. I’m working on the trailer now. It should be done soon. We did a screening of the film and it seemed to go over well!
Thanks for checking in, and for your kind words, they mean a lot. Help spread the word!
All the best!
…There you have it! Malevolence 3 has been finished and a trailer is on it’s way! Awesome news!
The folks over at Blumehouse.com have broken disappointing news for fans of writer/director Stevan Mena and his Malevolence and Bereavementfilms. It appears that due to the tragic suicide of a major cast member, this film may never be finished. An unnamed actor playing one of the film’s two FBI agents in pursuit of serial killer Martin Bristol, has sadly taken his own life with only 75% of the film completed. Thus, the role would need to be recast and all his scenes reshot…something the already financially challenged final chapter in the trilogy cannot afford without major funds.
Perhaps as Blumhouse.com has broken the story, it would be wonderful if Jason Blum and Blumhouse Pictures came to the rescue! Either way, my heart goes out to the family and friends of the deceased and to the cast and crew of Killer: Malevolence 3, as this must be a crushing set-back to completing their vision after so much hard work.
The film had serial killer Martin Bristol leaving a trail of bodies as he made his way back home to where he was taken from many years before as a boy. It starred a returning Kevin McKelvey as Agent Perkins, a returning Jay Cohen as Martin Bristol and the legendary Adrienne Barbeau!
MAJOR UPDATE 6/7/18!– Click HERE to get the scoop given to MonsterZero NJ from Stevan Mena himself on the status of Malevolence 3!
Need a little variety for your Halloween viewing this year? These are 25 lesser-known, overlooked or more obscure horrors from recent years that certainly are worthy of a spot on your movie playlist for the upcoming Halloween season!
(Click on the titles below the movie poster gallery to get to our reviews!)
Click on the titles here to go to the review page for the corresponding movie!
Malevolence is writer/director Stevan Mena’s throwback to the low budget horror flicks from the 70’s like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween. In fact, the film seems to be a combination of the two with a masked serial killer stalking bank robbers and their hostages in both an abandoned home and an equally abandoned nearby slaughterhouse.
The film opens in 1989 as a young six-year-old boy named Martin Bristol has disappeared. We then watch a disturbing scene of a man murdering a bound female victim in front of the captive little boy. The film then switches forward to a decade later with boyfriend and girlfriend Julian (R. Brandon Johnson) and Marylin (Heather Magee) participating in a bank robbery with Marylin’s brother Max (Keith Chambers) and partner Kurt (Richard Glover). The robbery goes awry and while they escape with the money, Max is shot and soon dies. They split up, but plan to meet at an abandoned house deep in the woods later on. Marylin and Julian go to bury Max, while Kurt is forced to abandon his vehicle and commandeers an SUV containing pretty single mom Samantha (Samantha Dark) and her teen daughter Courtney (Courtney Bertolone). They soon will all converge at the house, but the empty dwelling is not as deserted as they think. A masked killer has made the nearby abandoned slaughterhouse his home and the old home is part of his stalking ground. When Courtney escapes and is pursued by Kurt into the slaughterhouse, the vicious killer is made aware there are intruders in his domain and sets his sights on robber and hostage alike.
In the spirit of the films listed above, that obviously inspired this low budget chiller, Malevolence delivers some solid scares and suspense provided by Director Steve Mena who does well recreating a pre-Scream horror thriller…sans in-jokes and back to basics. And I really liked his no nonsense approach without all the winks, nods and pop culture references that so many of today’s filmmakers feel the need to inject into their films. That can be fun, but it’s nice to see someone go old school and take a more straightforward approach. He has a really nice eye for shots, which adds a lot of atmosphere, and is aided by some crisp cinematography by Tsuyoshi Kimoto and overall the film has a nice sense of dread and a really unsettling visual style.
His cast does well enough, too. No Oscars, but no Razzies either. Johnson provides a suitable reluctant robber turned hero. Pretty lead Samantha Dark seems to have an English accent, which sticks out since she’s playing a soccer mom from suburban P.A., but since she spends much of the film screaming or gagged with duct tape, it doesn’t distract too much. The rest are all adequate in portraying their characters and the usual cliched characterizations that populate these kind of films are avoided here by writer Mena.
Not quite a classic, but a good solid horror flick for a Saturday night fright fest. Director Stevan Mena shows some real potential and in the style of John Carpenter, who is clearly an influence, he not only writes, produces and directs, but also composed the score. His follow-up, the prequel Bereavement, really upped the ante with a horrifying look back at how Malevolence’s killer came to be.
Malevolence may not satisfy some of today’s generation of horror fans raised on the glossy, self-aware horror films of the post Scream era… and I do love Scream… but, as someone raised on the horror of the 70s and 80s, this was a breath of nostalgic fresh air and a return to a more simple and direct style of horror flick.
Yes, I can read a calendar and I know that Halloween is sadly months away but, our Halloween Hotties segments last October were very popular and still get viewed so, I decided to continue the trend outside the Halloween season to take a look at horror cinema’s most fetching femme fatales and final girls…
Today we are going to take a look at the beautiful rising star that is Alexandra Daddario. She hasn’t been in a lot of horror but, she has 3 on her resume’, a horror comedy on the way, and is playing a mythical monster battling demi-goddess in the Percy Jackson film series so, that does help in qualifying her as a scream queen… not that I needed much of an excuse…
(Click on the highlighted links or on the movie posters to read a review of her horror film’s that I’ve covered here previously.And click HERE for a more in depth look at Alexandra’s Chainsaw character in our Why Do Good Scares Like Bad Girls expose’ of some of Horror’s recent femme fatales.)
The actress sans the usual make-up, grime and gore that she usually adorns in her horror hits.
Alexandra Daddario is a New York City girl by birth and got her start acting as a teen on the long running soap opera All My Children. Her first venture in horror came in the 2008 supernatural thriller The Attic, where she starred as an ill-fated young women whose peaceful evening in the tub does not end well and then proceeds to haunt the future occupants. And while I didn’t think much of this flick overall, Daddario can haunt me anytime!
…As the ill-fated Ava Strauss…
…still fetching in her spectral form.
Daddario’s next venture into the horror genre was Stevan Mena’s exceptional horror prequel Bereavement. One of the best horrors of 2011 and of recent years. Bereavement tells the terrifying story of a young boy named Martin Bristol… the killer from the first flick Malevolence as a child… who is captured by a serial killer named Graham Sutter who decides to teach the boy his gruesome trade. Alexandra plays Allison Miller, a teen orphaned by a terrible accident who comes to live with her uncle and his family. Unfortunately for our heroine, the Millers live within proximity of Sutter’s abandoned slaughterhouse lair and of course, the two will cross paths putting Alison in the fight of her life. A great horror flick with a very strong heroine from Daddario who really showed some acting chops here.
Being hunted by Bereavement’s Graham Sutter…
…temporarily in his clutches…
…and in one of the film’s quieter moments.
Daddario’s third horror flick… and we hope she’ll do more… is the direct sequel to the classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Texas Chainsaw 3D is a flawed movie but, still has a lot of entertainment value and can be a lot of fun if you cut it some slack and just go with it. Plus Alexandra gives us another hot and feisty heroine and even gets to show us a little bit of a femme fatale side to boot. And that alone makes it worth a watch!
As Leatherface’s long lost cousin “Heather”…
…a cousin who is more then capable of standing up to her homicidal kin and some corrupt townfolk…
…and while we admit Alexandra Daddario is quite a keeper, we think movie cousin Leatherface is taking that a bit too literally…
As herself, a talented and beautiful young actress whose star is on the rise with more upcoming film roles, such as legendary director Joe Dante’s now filming zombie comedy Burying The Ex, and in the currently airing HBO series True Detective as a sexy court reporter!
Alexandra as Olivia from Burying The Ex. A woman who might have competition from her beau’s zombified ex-girlfriend.