PLOT: A serial killer preys on a small farming community, aided by a young kidnapping victim who can feel no pain.
BOTTOM LINE: Classy entry into the serial-killer genre is almost flawless, visually and structurally, even if its excess of violence is at war with its overall tone.
CAST: Alexandra Daddario, Michael Biehn, Brett Rickaby, Spencer List
Twin demons must have perched on the shoulders of director Stevan Mena, one screaming "art!" and the other bellowing "more blood!" The tension at the heart of Mena's "Bereavement" is not exclusively about its serial-killer plotline, its young kidnapping victim or the women strung up like beef in the abandoned slaughterhouse. It's about what the Long Island director is capable of doing, and who was realistically going to see his film.
Virtually every shot in "Bereavement" - a sort of prequel to Mena's "Malevolence" (2005) - is the right one; the editing, also by Mena, is first-rate. But what we don't see is often far more horrifying than what we do, and Mena doesn't hold back enough to create anything haunting, just horrifying.
Which will certainly be enough to get the fan boys in to watch young Martin Bristol (Spencer List), as he is forced to watch his stark raving captor, Sutter (Brett Rickaby), disembowel the various female victims he abducts around their remote farming community. Everyone knows a weirdo lives at the old plant, that the place is a mess, and yet in a town of about 14 people, no one thinks to look there when the women go missing. It's an aspect of the story to which Mena didn't give quite enough attention. But the rest of the story - in which city girl Allison (Alexandra Daddario) comes to live with her uncle (Michael Biehn), sparks with young local William (Nolan Gerard Funk) and starts catching sight of a mysterious young boy - rolls out just the way it should.