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Malevolence (2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Stevan Mena

Starring:
Samantha Dark/Samantha
Brandon Johnson/Julian
Heather Magee/Marylin
Richard Glover/Kurt
7 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
A gang of rookie bank robbers on the lam from the cops, hide out in a house in the middle of nowhere. Unbeknownst to them, the domicile next to theirs arbors a “loony” serial killer who’s not too fond of un-invited guests. He welcomes them warmly with some to the point “stab-stabs”. Arrow Sings: Would you be mine, could you be mine, won’t you be my eviscerated neighbor!
THE LOWDOWN

No one gets out alive…

Stevan Mena’s Malevolence (To be released on DVD April 19, 2005...that's today!) has FINALLY found its way to where it belongs…in my freaking DVD collection of fine genre films. I’ve been trying to see this sucker for ages (even before it locked distribution) and thankfully for my “pumped for it” self, it did not let me down. Being that I was raised on 70’s and 80’s slashers, I have a G-Spot for Carpenter’s Halloween, Cunningham’s Friday the 13th, Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Mayland’s The Burning. Well Stevan Mena must have been streamed on a similar “red meat” diet when growing up where Malevolence succeeded at perfectly emulating the “tone” of those past efforts while managing to stand proudly on its own too machetes as a fine slasher opus.

Malevolence’s first pleasant `kitchen knife” jab in my pig belly was its slow and methodological pace. In this day and age of “2 minute brother” executed stories, it was invigorating to witness a horror film that served up a narrative structure that took its time in building up its characters, its dire situation and its horror. In truth, the mayhem here really hit the blender at about 45 minutes in! Although I can see many of today’s genre freaks being turned off by that statement, I personally pat the film on the left breast for bravely taking that lost highway. It resulted in making the eventual violence and suspense set pieces cut so much deeper than if it had went full “horror ahead” earlier on. Slow paced or not, the narrative always had me by the collar and when it got ugly, I was put through the oppressive anxiety ringer. MUCHO GRACIAS for that!

Mena’s infectious directing style added to the old school fiesta as well. His lingering and somber approach to his visuals wound up sucking in me deeper into the world of the film while keeping me hooked line and bitch slapped throughout! I just couldn’t take my retinas off the macabre beauty on my screen! The finely tuned tension filled scenes, the gorgeous cinematography (by Tsuyoshi Kimoto) and the occasional "sweet" stylistic shots also went on to woo me to retro “there’s still art in filmmaking” heaven. Now don’t get me wrong; I dig quick cuts and flash as much as the next prick-bastard but it was King Kong gratifying to see a recent genre flick with a more subdued and artistically inclined coating. Slap on top of that; the killer’s Friday the 13Th part 2 like head gear, mucho nods to horror of old (with Halloween in the forefront), a heart pounding “Carpenter like” score and enough meat between its buns to make me crave a sequel; and you get a “clean” blast from the past fear injection. CLEAN!

Sadly; Malevolence did lose some of its grasp on me for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I just didn’t care about the characters nearly as much I should’ve had. Why? To be honest…I don’t know! The characterizations were layered enough and the acting was credible but for some reason that only my shrink knows for sure, I wasn’t concerned when it came to their fate. With that in mind, it is a statement to Mena’s directorial skills that he still had me on the edge of my blade. I usually don’t get uneasy when the characters don’t talk to me, but here the situation and the way in which Mena communicated it mostly made up for that. Lastly, I personally would’ve appreciated more gore, a higher body count and yes I’ll say it with no shame…A FREAKING TIT SHOT! Come on! But that’s just the greedy, horny and shameless slasher fan in me talking.

Overall, Malevolence was a well written, skillfully directed and scrumptiously retro slasher flick with brains and maturity on its knife. If this is what Stevan Mena can pull off with 200 000$ on a first feature, I’m croaking to see what he’ll wing with more dough and added experience in tow! MARVEL AT MALEVOLENCE
GORE
We get some stabbings and bludgeonings. Although brutal, the flick wasn’t too graphic.
ACTING
Samantha Dark (Samantha) hit the necessary emotional notes but I found her British accent semi distracting. It felt out of place. Brandon Johnson (Julian) was my anchor to the story character wise and he handled his conflicted yet sympathetic role to a T. Heather Magee (Marylin) was convincing and a cutie to boot! Call me! Lets do burgers! Richard Glover (Kurt) nailed the “live wire” demeanor of the part, hence selling me on it.
T & A
My binoculars revealed that the “hooker" that lives in the building across the street from mine likes to walk in the nude a lot within her apartment. So yup, I saw some titties today…just not in this film.
DIRECTING
Mena was CLEARLY heavily influenced by John Carpenter. I so grooved to the mix of gritty and sumptuous that the film displayed via its meticulously staged visuals. Furthermore, I was utterly impressed by the horror at play and the double dipping of tension Mena served up. The lad is one to watch for!
SOUNDTRACK
Mena’s engaging score reminded me of a shovelful of Carpenter, a handful of Howard Shore and a pinch of Manfredini’s Friday the 13Th score…i.e…it kicked some serious behind! Good job man!
BOTTOM LINE
Malevolence made me feel like I entered a time machine to go back to the late 70’s, early 80’s, a time when horror films didn't rush things, played it mostly straight and weren't all about flash or quick cuts. Granted, the characters in this morgue didn’t crank me enough for me to love them and I would’ve boogied to more “exploitation” treats spread about…but that didn’t tarnish Malevolence’s dignified coattails. Slash this expertly crafted, morbid and seat chewing ride with all you got! Who knows it might slash you back in return!
BULL'S EYE
The flick was shot in Long Island, New York.

The flick was shot over a period of almost two years.

The casting took six months to go down with over 1000 actors auditioning for the roles. Ironically enough; Brandon Johnson was cast a week before the first day of shooting.

VISIT THE MALEVOLENCE SITE HERE

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