What is it all about?
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 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 trail of terror, desperate to capture him before he kills again. Martin’s family, mourning his disappearance for over 10 years, is informed not only that he is alive, but that he is responsible for the wave of murder sweeping through their town. Will they be able to reunite with their long lost son before it’s too late, or will Perkins have to use excessive force to bring him down?
Yes, you read that right!
After many years of waiting for one of horror’s greatest of bogeymen to arrive back on our screens, he is finally here. A killer with no motive, a man who stalks and preys on his victims with no sign of remorse or regret. A killer who acts like a silent assassin, who sneaks into the house of his victim, unleashes a bout of extreme violence before vanishing into the night.
Reading the above paragraph you may be thinking that I have been somehow lucky and had stumbled into an early screening of Halloween 2018, but while the horror world awaits for the return of Michael, I am actually taking about Martin Bristol, a guy who for many slash fans is the closest we have had to a guy who as a young boy, picked up a knife on Halloween night and never put it down.
I can’t believe how excited I was and how long I’ve waited for this sequel. It was in 2003 when I walked into my local Tesco to do my usual Monday morning ritual, to see what new horror films were released that week and the title Malevolence was staring back at me. On the cover of the DVD was a quote from the New York Times that called the film “Fitting Malevolent”, which got me quite excited, simply because not only did I not know what malevolence meant but secondly, I saw an Ad for this film only a few weeks before in my monthly film magazine and, well it enticed me with its art cover and another quote that called it “the best Slasher in years”.
The first ten minutes of the original you would think that you are not watching a horror. What starts with a heist gone wrong, it comes across like the usual Tarantino rip off’s that were popular back then, but all of a sudden like a sudden stab into the heart from Martin himself, the film morphed from one genre into a splendid Halloween homage that I can honestly say is one of the greatest slasher movies ever made.
The ending left a tantalising taste in the mouth for a follow up and while we finally had one in 2010, Stevan Mena a very talented artist who writes and directs these films and whom HCF have had the privilege to interview over the years, surprised us all by releasing a prequel that showed just how Martin turned out the way he did. Mena to all his credit, pulled off a rare achievement as it lived up to what fans wanted, but at the same time, left us screaming in despair as we were desperate to see a continuation of what happens after Malevolence finished, well fifteen years later, we finally get what we craved as Malevolence 3: Killer virtually carries on from the original, the question is though, was it worth the wait?
The blood of the Halloween franchise is dripped into nearly every frame of this movie and if you love everything of Myers then you will simply adore Martin and what he does in this flick. Make no mistake, Mena does not re-invent the genre here, over the last few years there have been some wonderful underrated slasher flicks like The Final Girls that played with the formula and spread the Meta to wonderful effect, but all Mena is interested in is to bring an old fashioned tale to the table. Its like if you transferred this film onto an old battered VHS tape and told a whole a new generation of horror lovers that this was released in the early 80’s. then apart from a few Mod-Cons, they would never doubt you.
Once originally titled Alone, the film now lives up to its KILLER tag as Martin is now loose in the neighbourhood, free from the clutches of Sutter, and stalking those around him. From the haunting credits that again is very Carpenteresque, the way this third film moves the shackles off will once more throw you, something that the franchise is now well known for doing. MaleVolence was designed to scare you, Bereavement to disturb, while this is simply to have a bit of fun. For many moments while we know its Martin, dressed in a kind of Boiler Suit, is outside looking in, the way the scenes are shot, you would believe its Michael Myers, minus his heavy breathing.
But its not all Kill, Kill, Kill. Mena shows a deft touch in building character than just for us to witness a bloodbath. The film focuses on Ellie (Katie Gibson), but there are a few who also have a lot of screen time, most notably the young Victoria (Victoria Mena) whose relationship with Ellie later on, echoes that of Laurie alongside Tommy and Lindsay way back on that fateful night of 1978.
Plot wise its a bit thin, but what do you expect from a slasher movie? Martin is prowling while Special Agent Perkins (Kevin McKelvey) is trying to hunt him down. The beats of the movie may be way too familiar to some, but slash fans will be in their element. The first few kills are off screen, but when a tool to the head hits, it will delight gore hounds and some of the kills are shocking and quite surprising. I was generally stunned with an early kill, I didn’t expect it and it suggests once more that Mena does have a dark side when it comes to his material.
Adding Adrienne Barbeau to the cast as Martin’s grandmother is a nice touch, and the only real negative I can find of the film is I would have loved to have seen more of this plot of Martin getting reunited with his long lost family as its here that the film’s heartbeat shines though, but I guess Mena was just too busy having fun with a demented guy killing innocent young girls, than deal with a drama of a young man with severe issues whose family are trying to reconnect. Just typing that makes me realise how heavy this plot is underneath the carnage.
The last twenty minutes offers no real surprises (bar one jump scene that is totally excellent), and there are enough homages once more to that certain film, I refuse to mention again, but MaleVolence 3 is everything we wanted and more. To wait fifteen years and then have it delivered to us in such a simplistic way, is a whole credit to Mena who also had to deal with a tragedy while filming.
I am not kidding when I say this is a franchise that is up there with the likes of Halloween. (Damn I mentioned it again). Yes its a homage for the majority of the running time (even though Bereavement is a different beast) and some will find issues with that, but you can’t argue that the franchise is constantly good in what it delivers.
There is one moment in the film that brought a bit of irony for me watching. In the original Halloween (sigh, yes a mention again), a character is watching TV while The Thing is playing, a film that John Carpenter later went on and directed to masterful effect. In this, a character is watching a made up slasher flick called An Engagement In Terror and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mena himself ended up making that film as it seems Hollywood hasn’t called yet when in reality they should be knocking his door because as a director he is as close to Carpenter in terms of film making and what he brings to the screen.
If the Malevolence trilogy will be his legacy then he has achieved more than what most directors out there have, but with Haddonfield now in the hands of Blumhouse and Co and the world waiting to see what they bring, lets hope Mena will finally get the chance to play with the big boys, because he deserves it and if you reading this review and have never even heard of Malevolence, then what you waiting for as Martin Bristol deserves it too.
In what is being described as a fitting conclusion to this franchise, could open the doors to something much bigger, because Malevolence 1, Malevolence 2: Bereavement and Malevolence 3: Killer are that good.
A Slasher trilogy made by a slasher fan for the slasher fans….
add a star for when the box set is released
MaleVolence 3: Killer is out in October.
The entire MaleVolence collection will be available in October on Blu-Ray