Malevolence – review

Ah, the slasher sub-genre, the tried and true favorite of filmmakers young and old. The slasher film is the old war-horse of horror and is a staple that never goes out of style. The films get gorier, get more ridiculous, then dial back to the forebears and play more on creeps than blood but essentially they are the same. These are like the slapstick comedies of old, it’s all about the gags, and no matter how many times the stories are told, there is always a new twist to add in, always a new way to tell teh story of the boogieman. Malevolence is just such a re-telling.

After a bunch of bumbling crooks botch a bank heist the survivors set off separately toward the meeting place – an abandoned old farmhouse out in the middle of nowhere. They’ll meet up and split the money then disappear. What they don’t know is that the farmhouse isn’t as abandoned as they think. It seems there is something dark and deadly stalking those shadowed halls and is all too happy to welcome in new guests. When one of the bank robbers kidnaps a mother and daughter it only increases the danger and as things continue to spiral out of control, the hostages will have to trust their captors if any of them are to have a hope of escaping.

If you have seen Halloween then you will recognize the music (it is a loving homage, not a rip-off, but you can tell where it came from), as well as the set ups and killer. None of this is a bad thing but it doesn’t make for a wholly original thing either. This is your every day average silent killer roaming the darkness and knocking off the victims affair and it sticks pretty close to that template. You have to give it credit though, the sets are creepy, the lighting is good, the film is shot well, and the killer is pretty good (though he reminds one a bit too much of Jason Voorhees circa part 2). The problem isn’t with the structure, it’s with the dressing, or the story, which is pretty horrible. The whole ‘bank robbers botch a job and are on the run’ schtick is older than the slasher film and it feels flimsy here, as do the characters. And phew, the end is utterly predictable. Still, all that aside, the film is watchable and pretty enjoyable. This never turns into a gorefest, the kills are good, and the killer is pretty darn creepy. The problem was just a lack of originality. Oh, well., there is also the good job they did on killing the film’s pace and ending with ten minutes of exposition explaining what we just saw.

If you are a slasher film fan then this is definitely worth a look, and it won’t disappoint. The problem though is that with films like Behind the Mask out there, a movie has to up its game these days to get and keep your attention, and while this is a fun film, it’s certainly not one you’ll be going back to over the years.

6.5 out of 10

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