In 2003, writer, director, and producer Steven Mena released his indie slasher homage, Malevolence. While it didn’t reach a large audience, Malevolence made enough of an impression to get a belated prequel, Bereavement. Now eight years later, series fans may finally get a resolution to Mena’s story. Though critics lambasted Malevolence as derivative, Mena showed some potential. But then Bereavement felt like a step backwards. Could a direct sequel offer a satisfactory resolution to what was an originally disturbing concept?
Following the events of Malevolence, serial killer Martin Bristol survived and evaded the police. After finding and killing the surviving victims from that night, Martin Bristol inexplicably returns to his childhood home with FBI agent William Perkins in pursuit. Instead of a family reunion, Martin finds young college students living in his old house. Lacking anything resembling a conscience, Martin now mercifully stalks his new prey in the shadows of this suburban neighbourhood.
Malevolence 3 Kills Any Fond Memories of the Original
Mena carefully straddled the line between homage and imitation with Malevolence. This time around, however, Mena jumps headlong into derivative territory. To be perfectly blunt, Malevolence 3 feels like a lazy retread of any and every low-budget slasher sequel you’ve seen. As per the rule of horror follow-ups, Mena introduces characters simply to serve as fodder for Bristol and up the body count. It’s all set up, no pay off. Malevolence 3 seems content to lazily shamble from one death scene to the next.
Malevolence 3 seems content to lazily shamble from one death scene to the next.
What’s particularly shocking with Mena’s sequel is how quietly it abandons some of the original’s better ideas. That’s not to say that Malevolence was some brilliant classic. But that film at least benefited from a disturbing origin and unnerving imagery. Aside from some expository dialogue to remind viewers of Bristol’s kidnapping, Malevolence 3 doesn’t bother delving any further into its killer’s inner workings. Bristol does conveniently find and stage a bull skull in a callback to the first film. But Mena largely ignores the best elements of the series opting instead to focus on a repetitive cycle of death scenes.
Mena Trades In Atmosphere For Explicit Violence With Less Payoff
Mena didn’t exactly give a Master’s class in suspense with Malevolence. Yet the original film had its share of jolts and unsettling atmospheric moments. All of that is tossed out the window here. Instead Malevolence 3 indulges in gratuitous nudity and more explicit graphic violence. While audiences won’t find anything here that approaches the fun lunacy of recent slashers like Terrifier, there are a few impressive death scenes. None of these scenes, however, are remotely scary. It’s as though Mena used up all his film-making mojo in the first movie.
But it’s a story thread that is tangential to the movie’s main action and offers absolutely no payoff.
Another confusing part of Malevolence 3 is just the pointlessness of the ‘homecoming’ angle. Mena does nothing with the premise of Bristol returning to his family home. Once the killing start, Malevolence 3 abandons this part of its own story. Yes, we meet Bristol’s family and come back to them occasionally over the course of the movie. But it’s a story thread that is tangential to the main action and offers absolutely no payoff.
Weak Performances Will Have You Wishing That Bristol Would Work Faster
Malevolence had some pretty wooden performances. This sequel dares the first movie to hold its beer. Not one performance in the movie rises to the level of mediocrity. At least in Malevolence, Jay Cohen spent most of the movie under a creepy mask. In this belated sequel, Cohen desperately misses that mask as he’s barely able to register more than a blank expression. As the stalking Martin Bristol, Cohen leaves no impression whatsoever in the movie. And poor Adrienne Barbeau. Her role amounts to little more than a cameo; it’s pointless stunt casting. She’s given nothing to do in the movie, which at least means she escapes this mess relatively unscathed.
Malevolence 3 Is A Belated and Pointless Sequel
Admittedly, I was a fan of the original Malevolence. Though the prequel, Bereavement, was disappointing, I was a hopeful that a direct sequel would explore more of what made Mena’s original idea work. But the third time wasn’t the charm for this series. Perhaps the biggest insult hurled at audiences is the ending tease for another sequel. Not only does Malevolence 3 fail to follow up on the first film’s best plot points, but it has the audacity to threaten us with another movie.
THE PROFESSOR’S FINAL GRADE: D