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MALEVOLENCE
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Reviewed by: Matt Withers

Directed by: Steven Mena

Starring:
Brandon Johnson
Samantha Dark
Heather Magee
Keith Chambers

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A group of not particularly organized robbers run into some problems during their getaway, and then run into even more problems when they pick a serial killer's house as their hideout. Plus an innocent mother and her young daughter get dragged into the mess. It's a new school set up to get into an old school slasher.
Is it good movie?
Malevolence is one of those flicks that you really want to love just because of the monumental effort and earnestness the filmmakers put into the project. It also shows that shooting on 35mm really does make a huge difference in your final product. Putting those considerations aside, though, does the movie work on its own merits?

Kinda.

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.

Video / Audio
Video: Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Audio: Dolby Surround 5.1

The Extras
Featurette: Back to the Slaughterhouse: A well constructed look at the process of making the flick, with plenty of insight into the challenges of independent filmmaking. The only downside is that a lot of the info is duplicated on the Commentary track.

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.

Last Call
If you'd rather get with the mousy chick who'll do anal instead of the beauty queen that thinks bj's are gross, then you'll definitely appreciate this flawed, but energetic slasher.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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