It was four years ago, in the midst of shooting “Malevolence 3: Killer” in the Lehigh Valley, that filmmaker Stevan Mena came to the realization that his movie might never see the light of day.
Even though the earlier films in the trilogy – “Malevolence” (2003) and “Bereavement” (2010) – had become indie hits, Mena didn’t have enough money in his budget to overcome a tragedy which struck the production midway through filming.
“During production, our lead actor, Scott Decker, got sick,” recalls Mena. “So, we went on hiatus [with] about 75 percent of the filming complete. Then Scott passed [away] in 2015 and we cancelled production.
“Because we had shot so much footage that we [would] have had to re-do, and our budget was spent, we decided to scrap the project.”
But, months after abandoning the project.
Mena kept thinking about the footage, and dreaming of ways to complete the horror trilogy that he began in the early 2000s.
“It wasn’t until the overall sadness and just frustration had passed that I decided to try and revisit the film and complete it,” says the filmmaker. “I felt a lot of what was [filmed] was salvageable, with the right creative approach. I knew I would have to do most of the work myself, and it was very difficult.”
Now, nearly five years after “Malevolence 3” was shot – and then reshot – in Pennsylvania, the film is finally being released on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray.
“ I was always concerned that the final film would suffer because of the way we had to piece things together after Scott died, re-writing his role and inserting new characters, changing the ending,” says Mena.
“But now that we have screened the film a few times, each time getting rave reviews from the audience, many of whom have not even seen the other two films in the series, I feel we somehow pulled off the impossible, and that is a great feeling.
“At the end of the day, it’s a simple horror film, meant to scare and entertain. That’s all I wanted for this final film, and I think we achieved that. It’s a film you probably won’t spend days pondering, but it may make you check the closet and under the bed before you go to sleep that night.”
The same day that “Malevolence 3” is released, Mena will also be re-issuing both “Malevolence” and “Bereavement” on Blu-ray in extras-packed editions.
“’Malevolence’ has never been seen in HD, and `Bereavement’ is a director’s cut with new footage,” notes the filmmaker. “Overall, I wanted to re-introduce the trilogy with all new packaging and, yes, many new special features.”
Set in 1999, immediately after the events depicted in “Malevolence,”. The final film in the trilogy tells the story of Martin Bristol (Jay Cohen), a teenager who was trained. That as a killer by Graham Sutter, the serial slayer who snatched him when he was a youngster.
As Martin wrecks havoc in suburban Pennsylvania, he’s trailed by Special Agent William Perkins (Kevin McKelvey). Who is desperate to capture him before he kills again.
“I just wanted to have fun this time around,” notes Mena. “`Bereavement’ is a film you kind of endure, not just watch. I wanted to lighten things up a bit after putting people through that.
“But it was necessary to not sugarcoat [Martin’s] ordeal so that his actions in this film would be justified. He interacts with suburbia for the first time, and it’s not pretty.”
While the “Malevolence” movies exist primarily to scare you silly. Mena also weaves in themes about the damage that parents can do to children.
“The message or theme is to take care of your kids, or else they will grow up bad and make your life miserable. Even worse, someone else’s life,” he says.
Originally, the late actor Scott Decker played Perkins’ partner. But one of the ways that Mena was able to salvage the movie was to pare down Decker’s once-central role.
“We didn’t recast as much as we divided. Scott’s single role…into many parts. So, that we could use him as one of a team [but the movie was no longer] the buddy cop picture like it originally was… From early reviews it looks like what I did worked.”
Mena says “Malevolence 3” is as much of a departure from “Bereavement” as “Bereavement” was a departure. That from the original “Malevolence.”
“`Malevolence 3’ is far different in that it has a lighter tone, with a lot of humor throughout,”. That notes the filmmaker who cast Adrienne Barbeau in the small role of Martin Bristol’s grandmother. “It is also a much faster-paced film, more action, less character building.
“`Bereavement’ had a very down ending. So `Malevolence 3’ is to that film kind of like` Return of the Jedi’ was to `Empire Strikes Back.’ We’ve spent the last two films establishing these characters. So this is a chance to just wind them up and let them go.”
Directed By: Stevan Mena
Stars: Katie Gibson, Kevin McKelvey, Victoria Mena
Written By: Stevan Mena
Runtime: 88 minutes