Movie review: Bereavement

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

A big part of what makes a scary movie scary is vulnerability. It's the open water of "Jaws" or the fact that, in the space of "Alien," no one can here you scream.

This is also why children sometimes are key to horror films, because their innocence makes us squirm. Think of Danny riding his Big Wheel around the Overlook Hotel in "The Shining."

The slasher flick "Bereavement" taps into this, with a child who witnesses things no grown-up should see.

At age six, Martin Bristol is abducted from his backyard swing in rural Pennsylvania. Five years later, Martin (Spencer List) has witnessed his abductor commit countless acts of murder in a - wait for it - old slaughterhouse. And a newcomer to his town (Alexandra Daddario) unexpectedly opens the door to Martin's world.

Writer-director Stevan Mena pays homage to some heavy hitters in "Bereavement" (a prequel to his 2004 film "Malevolence"). You'll see hints of "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," "Psycho" and more.

The budget isn't huge, and the actors are a mixed bag, but the cinematography is gorgeous.

The disturbing subject matter won't win over anyone who can't handle the sadistic stuff. Slasher fans, however, should definitely check it out. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, but it borrows from the best.

"Bereavement"

Opens Friday

2 1/2 stars out of 4