Martin Bristol returns to where it all began: the home where he was kidnapped from. But he is not the boy who disappeared over 10 years ago. Tortured and abused at the hands of his psychotic... Read allMartin Bristol returns to where it all began: the home where he was kidnapped from. But he is not the boy who disappeared over 10 years ago. Tortured and abused at the hands of his psychotic captor, Graham Sutter, Martin is damaged beyond repair. Lurking in the shadows of suburbi... Read allMartin Bristol returns to where it all began: the home where he was kidnapped from. But he is not the boy who disappeared over 10 years ago. Tortured and abused at the hands of his psychotic captor, Graham Sutter, Martin is damaged beyond repair. Lurking in the shadows of suburbia, he stalks and kills without remorse. Special Agent William Perkins follows Martin's tra... Read all
The problem is, there's clearly an artistic vision behind Stevan Mena's Malevolence 3: it's trying really hard to be a throwback to 1980s slasher horror, with the antagonist fundamentally being a legally distinct version of Michael Myers and the narrative sharing the same sort of structure you'd expect from a Friday the 13th film, and yet, somehow, it never gets to the point of actually invoking that sensation of authorship. The direction is profoundly incompetent, on the first 10 minutes alone you'll find everything from poor editing choices (the film starts with a static frontal shot of a house and then cuts to a pan that goes from a tree to the exact same house, as if it's only now establishing a location) to poor performances (the very first line delivery sounds hilariously unnatural) and the occasional rubbish ADR (two characters have a conversation where one of them was clearly recorded in post with an entirely different microphone), however, despite these blunders, the actual camerawork and sound quality is just average enough to pass for an actual movie - and interestingly, that's actually to its detriment, since it turns a potential so-bad-it's-good experience into one where it's just a bad film plagued by jarring issues all around.
Narrative-wise, Malevolence 3 can be boiled down to every single slasher movie ever made, like it's built around a generic blank slate that's the filmmaking equivalent of a videogame asset flip. There's a mysterious mute killer on the loose in a small suburban American town, and there are a couple of teenagers who decide to spend the night over together, and I mean, it's not hard to see where it goes from here. Unsurprisingly, most characters have no more development than the most basic stock archetypes - you see, one of the girls dresses immodestly and has loud sex in her bedroom, which means she's the extroverted dirtbag character, whereas the other one reads books and refuses to engage in premarital intercourse, which means she is the pure and kind-hearted one! - and their arches primarily consist of being inert cannon fodder for the really bland and rudimentar kill scenes, eventually leaving no room to any actual character growth. Equally pitiful is the attempt at trying to establish a historical setting: apparently, the film is meant to be set during the 90s, and director Mena seems to think that merely adding an old iMac to the protagonists' bedroom and having some characters driving around in a Mercury sedan is enough to fully convince the spectator of that, never mind the obviously contemporary fashion, interior decoration, dialectic mannerisms and the 2010s police Dodge Charger just all making their way into the frame throughout the length of the film. And although I guess directly commenting on the ending would no longer make this a spoiler-free review (as much as there's anything worth spoiling), it might suffice to say that, if you've watched any sequel to a slasher that's trying to set itself up as a franchise, you probably know exactly how it's going to go.
The final product, above all, feels like an attempt at trying to appease to an old school crowd that grew up with the traditional 80s horror formula whilst failing to understand how that exact same formula is still in excessive use today, making this an utterly pointless effort in trying to recapture something that's already over-saturating cinema in the first place. It's not that throwback retro horror is inherently bad by itself, David Robert Mitchell's "It Follows" is an excellent example of that exact same sort of nostalgia done right: it retains the atmospheric wide shots, the night lighting and the hard synth soundtrack that wouldn't be out of place in a John Carpenter film, but it backs all of that with a far more sophisticated use of movement, composition, sound and editing, coupled with a narrative that explores some philosophically introspective reflections about sexuality and mortality, in a way that actually outgrows most of Carpenter's filmography and instead becomes its own thing. Ultimately, the fundamental difference between the concept of these two films is that Mitchell primarily took the aesthetics of his reference and added his own substance into it, while Mena is stuck with the vague ideal of a slasher movie that cannot have any more substance than its basic layout. In the end, it's no surprise that the result is just dull, derivative and painfully unremarkable.
- Mar 23, 2019