“He’s in the closet, waiting…patiently”
In 2004 I was knee deep into “Weird New Jersey” magazine. It was the most fascinating read I had come across in a long time. One evening while researching one of the legends online I came across the trailer for an upcoming film called “Malevolence”. WOW! This was one of the most well put together trailers I have ever seen. I was mesmerized and thus began my journey into the world of Martian Bristol.
“Malevolence” begins with a statement about missing children and about 6 year old Martian Bristol who was abducted from his back yard swing. The film opens proper in 1989 with a young girl chained, arms above her head, in a slaughter stall. Into the next stall walks the killer with a large sack. He opens it to reveal a young boy with a deep cut across his cheek. The boy watches as the man walks into the other stall and stabs the young girl to death.
Cut to titles.
1999. We are introduced to Kurt, Max, his sister Marilyn and Julian, who are preparing for a bank job. Julian is a good guy with a bad girl and is definitely not the man in charge. He is in debt to some bad people and this is his way out. Due to Julian’s inability to pull the trigger, Max is gut shot and dies on the way to the safe house.
Meanwhile, Kurt, who takes off in a second vehicle with the loot, gets a flat and is forced to look for a second vehicle. He comes across Samantha and her daughter Courtney at a gas station and takes them hostage. Soon Kurt and his new friends pull up to the safe house where he ties them up. Kurt, still wearing his white robbery hood hides most of the money and as he does, Courtney escapes. The little ugly kid runs off into the darkness and right into the abandoned house down the lane.
Kurt soon finds the house and begins looking. What he has done is stepped into a place right out of Ed Gein house as it is imagined, bloody bathtub and all. As he’s exploring he steps into a dark room and “SLAM!” he’s nailed in the head with a pulley and stabbed repeatedly. The killer takes the hood and heads to the safe house where Samantha is still tied up and Julian and his bitchy girlfriend Marilyn (I’m sorry but big tits aren’t always enough to put up with a major attitude problem) are about to arrive.
This sets the stage for what is one of the finest independent horrors ever! This film wears its influence on its sleeve. From Psycho and Halloween to Texas Chain Saw Massacre and Evil Dead, hell, it even has a little The Town That Dreaded Sundown thrown in for good measure. There even is a lift of the famous A Nightmare on Elm Street main music cue. With film so often is the case that it’s all been done in one form or another. There really aren’t any new ideas left so it’s not the story but the story telling. That is where you leave your mark and writer/Director Steven Mena does just that. It is not what the killer does or how he does it, but why. Questions that we ask and are never really given the answers to. Not in this chapter anyway.
What Mena is doing is creating a killer and a story that he hopes to unfold in several detailed films, laying the foundation what may someday become urban legend just as Texas Chain Saw has done before it.
The acting is all first rate. We care about Julian (Brandon Johnson) and his plight. We know he is a good guy in over his head and we root for him. Ditto with Samantha (Samantha Dark) as the struggling single mom held captive and searching for her daughter. The ugly little girl is even good. It’s a fine effort all the way around.
This film scared me. I jumped so many times and the scares aren’t cheap, but well deserved reactions to the increasing tension every scene commands. No one character in this film is perfect, nor are they extremely flawed. They are simply real. It’s a haunting film because more than any other slasher, the horror rings true. I hold Malevolence up with any film from the seventies because it was made with that same drive, raw talent and utter realness because in this film, story comes first. The film will always remind me of Weird New Jersey, the strange things that happen in this world to people that are just on their way through life.