Slasher films are a genre of their own, part horror film, part psychological drama, and all blood. These films are produced fast and heavy. With so many of them, you end up watching a blatant snuff film, or gore fest. Mena's film BEREAVEMENT transcends this pitfall, by providing believable, humanizing elements to the characters. It helps build the horror, when the audience can identify, or sympathize with the film's victums and heros. Interspliced with the shocking slaughter scenes, the film's central plot builds slowly to a finish that, unlike most of these types of films, you DO NOT see coming. (And expect no spoilers here.) Actually, the grand finale is so gruesome and creepy, I felt truly shocked, since the film subtlely works from the first moments, to bring you into sympathy with the kidnapped child, whom I thought would be saved. The psychological motives of the villian were sympathetically spelled out, thru flashbacks, and the disgusting, sad world he inhabited all his life. Most of these films dont, or cant, accomplish that--giving you humanizing connections to ALL the characters, good and evil.
The writer/director/producer/editor/music composer, Stevan Mena, by carrying all the reigns, is able to transmit his singular vision of a boring backwater town out near Pittsburg, where a panel truck, or an abandoned factory, or even the huge ominous looking electrial towers (which symbolically reinforce the nightmarish creepiness of the scarecrows made from steer skulls), become secondary characters in their own right. Even giving the child a disease which doesnt allow the perception of physical pain, a real disease by the way, makes an interesting symbolic motif for the disease of the psychopathic, where feeling emotional pain of others is absent. (And of course leads to the events of the film.) I enjoyed that symbolic level the film was operating upon. Altho its not an art film by any stretch of the imagination, its solid. The characters seem believable within the context of the plot. Even tho there is this realistic, rural setting for the film's heros to operate within, this realism breaks down within the surreal, hellish world of the severly disturbed Muller the Butcher. The film's major plot hole, was how SO MANY MURDERS of young women in a rural community, would not invite a massive legal investigation. Muller's trophy notebook with clippings from a newspaper of the various murders/abductions, makes a weak attempt at addressing the community's awareness of the abductions. Still, this lack of any detectives in the mix, remains an obvious plot flaw. Then again, in any slasher film, if you put to much logic into the equation, the film loses its focus, ie, the bloodsoaked world of the psychopathic murderer. Mena does attempt to show the bizarre, freaky inner world of the slasher, with odd strobe lighting, and a strange color pallete with the lighting inside the slaughterhouse. Inside that tortured and torturing enviorment, the whole nightmare realm of bloody death grows more powerful thruout the film, until its surprisingly brutal ending. Personally, this is more of a 3 and a half star film for me. Usually I see most slasher films as 1 or 2 star films, but this movie has plot, interesting characters portrayed by good actors, and clever symbolic devices to connect the realm of normal humanity with the abnormal realm of the psychopath. Since the film isnt dumbed down into a second hand clone of your average teen horror film, I found it enjoyable for what it was. And you most likely will too, if this is your cup of tea.