"Malevolence" - the ability or desire to do harm - is an interesting title for a feature film.

After vague statistics about child abductions, the chances of finding victims alive or dead, the victim's chances of surviving to adulthood and possible career plans, the audience is filled in on the story of little Martin Bristol who was taken from his family's backyard swing set at the age of 6.

His abductor is a crazed serial killer who has a penchant for swinging knives. Martin is made to watch his captor's grizzly horrors over and over. As time goes on abductor becomes mentor. Victim becomes predator.

This independent film originally saw limited release in September 2004. Since then it has slowly made its way around the nation. Several respected critics place it among the best recent attempts at no-name, low-budget slasher films. It was even awarded Best Screenplay by the Internet Horror Awards.

Although the plot is not among the most original of horror films and the acting is too often uneven and lacking motivation, as might be expected from relative unknowns, the film has gained popularity.

What does work are the sets and editing. There is more implied violence than is actually seen. Gore is kept to a minimum. That the perception of what could be is as frightening or more frightening than reality is a nod to the master of psychological thriller, Alfred Hitchcock.

Malevolence makes its DVD/Video release April 19.


John Malgesini is a teacher at Umatilla High School.


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