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Director: Stevan Mena
Cast: Michael Biehn, Alexandra Daddario, Brett Rickaby
Production Company: Crimson Films
Runtime: 103 minutes

It may be difficult to accept Bereavement (2010) as an indie movie because of its seven figure budget, and its cast of well-known actors. Still, it wasn’t released by a major studio, and does follow several of the conventions of a typical independent film. In many ways, Bereavement is exactly what many low-budget horror films truly aspire to be.

In the movie, a boy with a rare neural disorder is abducted by a deranged serial killer. The madman’s desire is for the child to take up his way of life. In the same small community, a family has taken in a teenage girl (Alexandra Daddario), whose parents have recently died. It isn’t long before all of their lives become tragically intertwined.

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Michael Biehn from The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986) and The Abyss (1989) plays the patriarch of the family. Biehn has worked steadily since his heyday back in the 1980s, probably because of his natural delivery, and ability to play likeable characters. He’s one of the highlights of this movie, though not the only one.

John Savage from The Deer Hunter (1978) appears in a cameo role, and does a great job with his small part. Brett Rickaby from The Crazies (2010) is creepy, and convincing as the homicidal maniac. Even the twin child actors, Spencer and Peyton List, give notable performances. The fine acting makes the horrors to come even harder to watch.

There are many disturbing moments of torture and violence in Bereavement. There have been other films that fall into this brutal category, such as Saw (2004) and A Darker Reality (2008). Here, the viewer may have a more vested interest because the characters are more developed, and in some cases, even endearing.

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There are quite a few elements in this film that reminded me of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). Sculptures made of human bones, and deadly meat hooks immediately spring to mind. On the other hand, this film is much more preoccupied with developing the growing mystery around the motivations and triggers of the serial killer than its predecessor.

At one point in the film, a teacher discusses two opposing views about human development. The first theory suggests that genetics shape us as people, while the second poses the idea that we are the product of our environment and conditioning. In many ways, this movie attempts to provide us with an answer to this dilemma.

The film has some interesting turns and misleads along the way that will keep you guessing. It’s also important to note that Bereavement is a prequel to Malevolence (2003), so you might want to check out that film too. Be sure to stick around after the credits for an additional scene that helps to link the two films together.

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Bereavement might be a tough movie to watch for some viewers. The torture scenes are often grisly, and always upsetting. The involvement of children only makes matters worse. I would recommend this film to a veteran horror buff, but would feel less comfortable doing so to a casual viewer of the genre. It’s intensity makes for great horror, if you can take it.

– John Migliore

For more information on the film, check out the links below…

Official Trailer

IMDb Page

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