An Interview with ‘Bereavement’s’ Stevan Mena.

Stevan Mena’s new horror film, “Bereavement,” is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray. The movie is the prequel to “Malevolence,” a film that was made on credit cards. I caught up with the writer and director, in which he discussed which movie he liked better, the proper use of gore and which projects he is currently working on.

Q – “Bereavement” came out on DVD and Blu-Ray August 30. This is actually the prequel to the 2004 “Malevolence.” Why did you decide to do “Bereavement” after “Malevolence?”

A - I thought it would be much scarier to see “Malevolence” and not know anything about the killer. Since “Bereavement” explains his backstory, it diminishes the scare factor a little. Also, I knew I needed much more money to do “Bereavement,” and since it was a more complex story, I wasn’t ready to do that part as my first film.

Q – Some critics think you overuse gore in your films. What’s the proper amount of gore and what’s your take on using it?

A - LOL, in “Malevolence,” they complained because there was no gore. So that’s new to me, but I think when you make a film about a killer in a slaughterhouse, you can’t pull punches. Although I think in the end, I held back a lot.

Q – For those unfamiliar with these two films, Martin Bristol is kidnapped at an early age by serial killer Graham Sutter. Bristol suffers from a disorder (CIPA) that doesn’t allow him to feel pain; Sutter sees this as an opportunity to mold Bristol into a killer. How did you come up with this plot?

A - I had read about CIPA in an article, and thought it would be cool to have a plausible reason for why the killer keeps coming after you, even after you hit him or cut him, whatever. Also, Sutter actually does not know Martin is afflicted with the disease, and Martin’s lack of reaction to the pain actually creates confusion and fear in Sutter, which eventually explodes in the finale, where Sutter accuses Martin of being soulless.

Q – I haven’t seen “Malevolence” but from what I’ve read is it is more of a slasher film than “Bereavement,” which incorporates almost a parent/son relationship between Bristol and Sutter. How difficult was it making the prequel to a movie that came out seven years prior? What were the obstacles you faced?

A - Well, the trilogy of these films was written as a book years ago, so I just picked up where I left off. The franchise got caught up in a legal battle because of greed, and I had to fight in court just to get my rights back to make my movie. Hollywood can be an ugly place. But in the end, the time just let me hone the story more and more, making it better.

Q – The graphics in “Bereavement” are top notch. The movie had one of the best finales I’ve seen in a horror movie. When directing this film, did you look at the story getting pushed along first or the use of graphics to convey plot details as more important?

A - I see them as equals. Every shot in my films is thought out beforehand. And I try to surround myself with good people to help me realize my vision. My films take longer to make, but to me the extra effort spent on set to get that sunset just right, or wait until just the right cloud cover, or searching for that perfect street or house; people appreciate that attention to detail (in my opinion).

Q – For people who have yet to see “Malevolence,” would they be lost with “Bereavement” or will the movie be as enjoyable?

A - I think both movies stand on their own.

Q – This is a tough one. Which movie do you like better, “Malevolence” or “Bereavement?”

A – “Bereavement.” “Malevolence” was a film shot on credit cards, and it’s a miracle it even got finished. Every shot in “Malevolence” was a compromise, and I’d like to fix just about everything about it. “Bereavement” came out exactly as I wanted for the most part, and I think it’s a pretty good representation of what was in my head. Especially Rickaby, he just nailed it.

Q – What’s next for you? Any projects you can discuss?

A - It was going to be my supernatural thriller “Transience,” but that also met with Hollywood’s dark side again. So it looks like we are going right into “Malevolence 3!”

Q – Thank you again. Is there anything you want to add?

A - Thanks for supporting independent films!!


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at
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