Part slasher flick, part heist-gone-wrong flick, "Malevolence" is a B-movie that tries to have all its bases covered. If it doesn't scare you, it should at least have you riveted with ever-looming dread and tension. Unfortunately, it does neither.
It's another straight-to-video flick that somehow eked its way into movie theaters. "Malevolence" claims to be a throwback to the low-budget, horror-flick prime of the '70s and early '80s, when scary movies weren't all tongue-in-cheek and dripping with irony and sarcasm. But a horror movie that keeps one eyebrow consistently arched is preferable to a horror movie that isn't aware of its dumbed-down ludicrousness -- like this one. You practically wish this thing didn't take itself so seriously, which it pitifully does. At least audiences wouldn't think all this bad acting, cheesy dialogue and overall played-out content wasn't done on purpose.
Like with many horror films, "Malevolence" features characters you wouldn't mind seeing iced. In fact, you wait for it -- nay, you pine for it.
There's the bickering lovebird couple (Brandon Johnson and Heather Magee) who get sucked into taking part in a doomed bank heist. There's the woman's hoodlum brother (Keith Chambers), who gets shot when the heist goes predictably wrong. There's their weaselly partner (Richard Glover), ready to double-cross them all back at the safe house, which just happens to be right next to the home of a serial killer.
The only sympathetic folk are the mother (Samantha Dark) and daughter (Courtney Bertolone) the partner kidnaps when his car breaks down. (However, the mom makes that ever-cliched move of falling down when the next-door killer goes after them, which makes you wish the killer would just get her right there.)
No matter how drab and murky this movie looks, "Malevolence," which is "based on a true story" the same way "The Blair Witch Project" was based on a "true" story, never gives us anything new to be scared about.
Writer/director/producer/composer/caterer Stevan Mena obviously wants to be the next John Carpenter so badly that the audience may end up walking out on this film and just renting a John Carpenter flick. And although "Malevolence" prides itself on not being another scary movie in which women with big fake breasts run around naked while being chased by the killer, it does feature Dark and Magee, two women whose hotness could drop them in the same league as former Carpenter muses Jamie Lee Curtis and Adrienne Barbeau.
Of course, the movie only gets exciting in the last 10 minutes. By then, it's too little, too late. "Malevolence" is a horror movie that's more of a nice try than an ingenious success.
At least the movie's Web site is scary.
Staff writer Craig D. Lindsey can be reached at 829-4760 or email@example.com.