The people behind Bereavement certainly studied their horror films before they made the movie. Psychotic, nutty ritualistic killer? Check. Creepy kid? Check. Young women who don’t wear bras screaming and being slaughtered? Check. Liberal sprinklings of blood and guts? Check. Generic but slightly sinister titles? Check. But while it may have all right ingredients, it’s not a completely satisfying concoction.
Teenager Allison (Percy Jackson’s Alexandra Daddario) moves in with her uncle (Michael Biehn) and his family after her parents die. While she’s hoping her new rural high school will allow her to continue her interest in sports, they’re not that interested in female athletes. Because of this she takes to jogging along the area’s remote roads.
Little does she know that in an old, run-down slaughterhouse next to one of her routes lives a psychotic killer, Graham Sutter, and the child he’s kidnapped. The murderer believes he’s engaged in some sort of ritualistic search for redemption by killing young women, while he thinks the child, Martin, is special as he can literally feel no pain (and seems incapable of speaking either). Sutter has been getting away with him crimes for years, but things get more difficult after Allison spots the child in the supposedly abandoned buildings.
This is the sort of movie that horror fans will enjoy while others will find it rather nasty and a bit tedious. Sutter is a nasty, nutty and cruel killer, who certainly doesn’t stint on terrorising young women before dispatching them in gruesome ways. It doesn’t quite reach the realms of torture porn, but its attitude sometimes comes close. That said, there’s definitely an attempt to create a story and deal in ideas, with a bit of a battle over the creepy, silent, pain-free child’s soul, and whether he is an innocent subjected to terrible things, or if seeing those terrible things has turned him evil.
Sadly though it doesn’t really rise much above bog-standard horror, and while Daddario does a good job of screaming a lot, her character is so flat it’s difficult to care. It would have helped as well if they’d fleshed out the weird ritualistic aspects of the psycho, which involve him pleading to and shouting at a skull draped in a cape, as there seems to be some sort of thematic logic to it that is never fully fleshed out. It all means that those looking for an okay but not exceptional slice of horror will be satisfied by Bereavement, but nobody else will enjoy it much.
Overall Verdict: Occasionally creepy but only partially successful, Bereavement should satisfy those who like nasty psycho horror, but won’t do it for anyone else.
Reviewer: Tim Isaac