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This is a pull no punches horror about a young boy, Martin Bristol (Spencer List) kidnaped by serial killer, Graham Sutter (Brett Rickaby) and forced to witness the atrocities he commits on innocent women. Worse yet, Sutter needs an heir apparent to his gruesome deeds and has chosen Martin to learn his trade. The film also follows a parallel story involving a teenage girl, Allison (Alexandra Daddario), who recently lost her parents and whose path is obviously destined to collide with the ordeal of young Martin…and to say anymore would spoil an intense chiller with a truly shocking and blood soaked final act.

Writer/director Stevan Mena showed a lot of potential with his first film  Malevolence and with his follow-up, Bereavement, he shows he is living up to it big time. While a prequel to his first film, Bereavement is crafted so you don’t need to have seen Malevolence, but if you have, there are a lot of little touches and nods you’ll recognize…especially in the post credits sequence. Mena’s involving such a young child in all the violence is daring and horrifying at the same time and we share in the horror as young Martin Bristol is made to participate in his disturbed mentor’s acts. It’s even more horrifying since he is basically a good kid forced into this and not some “bad seed” which we’ve seen before. Stevan Mena keeps a feeling of dread throughout, delivers some taunt suspense and doesn’t bludgeon us with shocking moments, so when they do come, they have the intended effect. The camera work evokes John Carpenter at times, as Mena knows how to frame a shot and achieve far more with it than just making it look good. As filmed by Marco Cappeta, the film looks beautiful at times, despite the grim subject matter. Also much like Carpenter, Mena also composed the atmospheric score and edited this highly effective chiller. The gore effects are live and well executed and the lack of CGI is quite refreshing.

The cast, including genre vet Michael Biehn, performs well with Daddario making a feisty and resourceful heroine and young Spencer List effectively handling the role of Martin. Rickaby is effectively creepy as Graham Sutter, yet gives him a subtle sadness that makes him slightly more tragic than the usual serial killer portrayal. John Richard Ingram returns as Officer Riley from Malevolence and veteran actor John Savage has a small role as Ted, the father of Allison’s romantic interest William (Nolan Gerard Funk).

A delightfully down to basics and highly recommended horror film. One of my favorites of 2011… Bereavement was made in 2010 and played at film festivals till it got a proper release in early 2011. Remember to watch through the credits, especially if you saw Malevolence.

A solid 3 and 1/2 busty imperiled heroines