The acting in this thing is pretty poor across the board. It ranges from flat to painful. Once the running, screaming and stalking gets underway it is a welcome relief from the generally grating tone set by actors who are clearly trying their best, but just don't have the chops for it. Two notable exceptions are Courtney Bertolone as the daughter and Heather Magee's breasts.
As to the plot, it's mostly a good idea that falls short of its potential. You can certainly delay the horror elements in a film to great effect (Jaws and Psycho being notable examples), but to do so you have to have a compelling story outside of those elements. The robbery story that gets Malevolence going simply doesn't fit the bill. Once we get to the horror it's pretty damn effective, but it takes quite awhile.
What does work in this flick is when it gets into the territory for which it's built. The cinematography is beautiful throughout, and takes full advantage of some sick locations for the good stuff. Mena's direction is quite apt as well, once his faceless killer gets down to business. The last half of the movie feels driven by a genre fan, but with creativity and style rather than presenting a watered down copy of other works.
And while it is not explored in nearly enough depth, likely because this is part of a planned trilogy, the glimpses of the killer's backstory that we get are genuinely well crafted and interesting. The "twist" at the end wasn't a winner for me, but it didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film.
So there's much to recommend about this effort, and much that detracts, but I think the overall quality is way above average and does make me want to see the trilogy completed.
Audio: Dolby Surround 5.1
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Stevan Mena, Actor Brandon Johnson and Associate Producer Eddie Akmal: Clearly these guys faced a lot of challenges with this pic, and it's fun hearing about the trials and tribulations. A bit more specificity and this good track could have been great.
Rehearsal Footage: I thought the acting was weak in the finished product, so you can imagine my opinion of the rehearsal footage.
Deleted Scenes: Easy tip - if a movie runs under 90 minutes, they didn't cut anything good out of it.
Still Gallery: I'm continually perplexed why this is a feature on any DVD.
Theatrical Trailer and TV/Radio spots: Fine to have, but I'd rather see the fake trailer they put together originally to get funding.
DVD-ROM Original Screenplay: Pretty cool. Seeing the difference between the filmmakers original vision and what actually makes it on screen always fascinates me.
Other Trailers: Wanna know what movies inspired Mena to make Malevolence? Watch these trailers to get the answer.