Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Director’s update on MALEVOLENCE sequel BEREAVEMENT

By Michael Gingold
If, like us, you’re a fan of writer/director Stevan Mena’s superior slasher film MALEVOLENCE, you may have been wondering what’s up with BEREAVEMENT, the second in Mena’s intended MALEVOLENCE trilogy. Fango spoke to Mena recently to get the lowdown on his progress with the sequel, which lensed a couple of years back and stars genre vets Michael Biehn and John Savage.

“The film is in final postproduction,” he tells us, “so we’re just working on the final touches of the sound mix.” The long process of completing BEREAVEMENT, he explains, has had to do with storytelling cocerns, not technical issues. “There’s a tremendous amount of plot that I’m trying to get into a two-hour movie, so certain things couldn’t make it in, and it was a long process for me to decide what should and shouldn’t be in the final picture. The initial cut was about three hours long, so it has been a laborious process to kind of kill my babies and figure out what the final film’s gonna be. It has taken me a while to really get my head wrapped around that, and now I’ve finally done it.”

Part of whipping BEREAVEMENT—which explores the background of the first MALEVOLENCE’s murderous Martin Bristol and also features Alexandra Daddario (soon to be seen in THE LIGHTNING THIEF), Spencer and Peyton List, Jennifer Blanc, Brett Rickaby and BASKET CASE 2’s Kathryn Meisle—into shape has involved a bit of reshooting and easing back on the red stuff. “The original cut was extraordinarily bloody,” Mena notes, “and we just felt there was no way we were going to get it to any kind of a wide audience with that amount in it. So we toned it down a bit—not to the detriment of gore fans; it’s still a very violent movie, it’s just a little more watchable now. There were also certain story elements that I felt needed a bit more attention, and I had the opportunity to go out and make it better, which I did.”

While both MALEVOLENCE and Mena’s satirical follow-up feature BRUTAL MASSACRE went out through Anchor Bay, Mena reveals that he has yet to sign a distribution deal for BEREAVEMENT, planning to send it out on the festival circuit once it’s completed. And as the lack of a MALEVOLENCE 2 tag indicates, the writer/director intends for the movie to be viewed for its individual merits, not as a typical sequel. “We wanted this film to be its own entity,” he says. “It’s actually better, in a weird way, if you haven’t seen the first one, because since it’s a prequel, there are certain things which will be obvious if you’ve seen the original. And if you haven’t, it certainly stands on its own. I’d say that you should see this, and then watch MALEVOLENCE.”

As for a third film in the trilogy, Mena reveals that a script is already done and ready to shoot, but “there are no current plans to make that, unless of course BEREAVEMENT is accepted as well as MALEVOLENCE was. If it is, we’ll certainly go out and do it. I don’t know if I’ll be coming back to direct it. I’ve done my time in that slaughterhouse, and BEREAVEMENT is a very, very different film from the first one. The only way to describe it is like an epic horror story. It’s more in the vein of THE SHINING, whereas the original was kind of like HALLOWEEN or FRIDAY THE 13TH. BEREAVEMENT is more of a character study than MALEVOLENCE was.”


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