February 1st, 1989; six year old Martin Bristol is kidnapped by a murdering madman. Taken to a dilapidated meat packing plant, the boy is forced to watch the unspeakable crimes.....and as the years go by the young man is eventually forgotten…whereabouts unknown…..another face on a milk box with an unhappy ending…..
Ten years later, fleeing from a botched bank robbery, a group of desperate felons take refuge in a seemingly abandoned house, but little do they know the previous tenant hasn’t left, and the hunt is about to begin…
Malevolence is throw-back stalk and slash done with finesse; it takes it’s time, sets the table, then smashes the fine China into pieces. It doesn’t jam to the thrill-a-minute hyper kinetic horror of post modern cinema, and it has the flavor of someone who is more into John Carpenter than music videos. It doesn’t have any of that post-Scream slasher self referential nonsense and it doesn’t feature a score by some one hit wonder band with too much hair gel and too little talent. It is old school like Atari, but it’s not here to shovel it down your gaping maw. Can you deal with that Jack?
Where there isn’t a high body count, or outlandish amounts of B&G (blood and guts…derrrr), there is a focus on suspense and building a sense of mounting dread, and for the most part I think it worked. The slow moving camera, the eerie resonance of ambient synthesizers, and minimalist use of contrast and light kept me ogling on to the very end. There were even a few moments where father creepsters icy cold fingers ever so gently grazed my spine, exciting that tingling fury of fear I love so much, the most notable instance being the attic scene towards the end, where the light from a “final girl’s” flash light follows the killer as he slowly descends upon her, making it a point not to rush on the frightened animal before him, taking his time, savoring the moment. Michael Myers has a distant cousin, a brother of a different mother, and (spoiler) his name is Martin Bristol. There’s also the rather Freudian murder scene where the killer bends over one of his would be victims in front of him, stabbing her over and over again in a flurry of death dealing knife strokes. As her eyes glaze over in the cold embrace of her demise the camera frames the killers head as it twitches rapidly. I’ll leave it up to the dear reader to decide whether or not he stained the inside of his coveralls, if you get my gutter-minded drift down the drain.
Malevolence might get mixed reviews for its sometimes lethargic pace, cast of mostly unsympathetic bank robbers, and low body count, but I found it to be one brutal brew for diehard slash-heads. It’s a slow burn homage to the horror greats, add a pinch of TCM here (Texas Chainsaw Massacre…derrr) a dabble of Halloween there, some punching synthesizers to highlight the jump scares, a slow moving silent-as-a-graveyard killer, and you got me hooked by the rib cage. If you’re a fan of the yesteryear slasher scene, then scare up some money for Malevolence…and be on the lookout for the 2 sequel/prequels coming out….I can’t wait!