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A prequel to 2004's "Malevolence" — a film I've never seen, and barely heard of — Stevan Mena's "Bereavement" is so rote, so by-the-numbers, I now have no interest in seeing where the story went from here.

In the small town of Minersville, Pa., 6-year-old Martin is kidnapped by a loony serial killer (Brett Rickaby, "The Crazies") who lives in an abandoned meat plant, and taught the ways of torturing pretty ladies.

Five years later, Allison (Alexandria Daddario, "Hall Pass") moves to town to live with her uncle (Michael Biehn, "Take Me Home Tonight") and his family following her parents' accidental death. A high school track star, she jogs around town, glimpses the kid (Spencer List, "Bringing Up Bobby") at the slaughterhouse, and sticks her cute, little nose where it doesn't belong. She thinks she's going to be his savior, not realizing he's bait.

So many characters — both sane and not — act so unbelievably and without proper development that "Bereavement" holds no power, no surprises. Daddario is an appealing relative newcomer; Biehn, a reliable, old pro, but neither is given material malleable enough with which to work. As he largely has been after the 1970s, John Savage (“The Deer Hunter”) is wasted.

Mena does a more-than-passable job as a director, pulling off some finely composed shots that should be scary, but are not, leading me to believe his future lay in helming scripts he did not write. (I did not realize until afterward that he is the same guy behind 2007's "Brutal Massacre: A Comedy," an unfunny movie I pretty much detested.)

Perhaps this picture works better for the "Malevolent" faithful; if so, films aren't supposed to work that way. And if not, well, it just doesn't quite work on its own. I was more entertained later by Mena's photos of himself on his IMDb page; never have I seen one man point in so many different ways. —Rod Lott


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