Horror Movie: Bereavement (2011; R; 103 min)

Part of my 31 Days of Horror…

A horror movie with a mission? A slasher fest with a message? Well, not exactly, but that’s what Bereavement pretends to be when it tries to answer this: What would it be like if a sadistic, psychotic killer took a young child under his wing, one with CIPA (Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, where a person cannot feel physical pain), in an effort to understand how fear and feeling interact? Uh, no, thanks; I like my horror movies without a message, thanks.

Bereavement opens in 1989 in PA, where a young CIPA boy named Martin Bristoll is kidnapped by Sutter, the above-mentioned crazy guy who lives next to his deceased father’s abandoned slaughterhouse. Sutter knows of Martin’s rare condition, and begins using the boy to clean up after his own slaughters (doesn’t anyone in these small towns ever notice when teen girls go missing for several years and doesn’t anyone ever think of checking the abandoned slaughterhouse for them and/or the killer?) and to try to teach the girls not to fear pain by cutting Martin in front of them. At least I think that’s his mission, but he also talks and listens to various steer skulls he has hanging around, who may or may not represent his dead father, and that’s where things get kind of fuzzy.


Fast forward five years and enter seventeen-year-old Allison, whose parents have just died and who is moving in with her Uncle John, his wife, and their young daughter Wendy. Uncle John happens to live just up the road from Sutter, though far enough away apparently to never hear screams coming from the twisty, dark, maze-like barn-ish slaughterhouse. He has also never seen Martin there, even though Allison does the first day while out running along the road.

For the next long hour or so, we see Sutter at work on various girls (think blood, gore, and knives), Martin cowering and scrubbing stalls, and hear gems such as, “Silence is the sound of no fear, no pain. The sound of peace. I envy your serenity.” (Just one golden nugget offered to Martin by Sutter). This drags on for quite a while, until Allison once again catches sight of Martin at the slaughterhouse, and goes in to try to help him escape.

Now I know you’re all shaking your heads about now, wondering why the teenage girl always has to do something all alone, in the middle of nowhere, that’s just so stupid. Well, because it’s a horror movie, silly, and we wouldn’t be watching if everyone just sat around singing campfire songs, now would we? So, instead, wonder: does Allison help Martin escape? Does Sutter “get his” in the end? And do those ugly skulls ever stop talking, even though no one but Sutter can hear them? Better yet, wonder: “Why did I rent this movie in the first place?” as that may make more sense than the disappointing ending to this movie which will only leave you Bereaved over losing your money!

  • Top Scare: Sutter creeping up behind Martin
  • Hearbeats: 2 1/4 out of 5
  • Gore Factor: 3 1/2 out of 5
  • Suspense Factor: 2 out of 5
  • Recommended for: 18 and up, due to gore and the child being hurt (even though this is shown very little).
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