June 24, 2010

Unholy Reunion (2009)

When I first thought about reviewing this slasher, I wondered how I could turn the words "complete and utter crap" into something more meaningful. Every film has its merits so perhaps those four words wouldn't be entirely accurate even though that was the overall impression that I got from watching the screener.

I'll start off by giving some kudos to the first time director, Ric McCloud, for having no less than 5 credits on IMDB for this film. He not only directed, produced, wrote, and edited the thing but was also a stunt driver in it. Also, since he managed to involve nearly the entire state of Minnesota somehow, I have to mention that you will probably never see such a huge list of credits for family members and friends who all helped out on the movie as you will find at the end of this one.

But having given him his props (as you hip Americans say), "Unholy Reunion" is simply not a good film. I wanted to like it but it was so very amateur that I just couldn't get past the bad acting of the leads, poor dialogue, ridiculous (yet amusing) fight scenes and general awfulness of it all.

Since two actresses that I've known for a long time were involved in this, Nicola Blessing and Rachel Grubb, I was hoping to heap lots of praise on them for their performances but, even though it's likely to put my friendship with them in jeopardy, I really can't. Rachel Grubb gets most of the mentions across the internet for "Unholy Reunion" even though she only has a very small role at the beginning. It's not a bad role and she doesn't do a bad job at all considering what she had to work with but I have to say that if she hadn't got her norks out then her part would be quite forgettable. Yes, I watched this because I wanted to see her boobies too. Is that such a bad thing? No, she's a lovely girl with a Bettie Page haircut who just happens to have some nice orbs. I can't fault her there at all.

Nicole Blessing, on the other hand, who has a much bigger part as drug-dealer Liz really doesn't do very well at all until the end. It's a big waste of her talent to get caught up in projects like this and, unfortunately, she doesn't get her bunny rabbits' noses out to make her performance memorable at all. I did like how she looked and the fight scene where she knocked out the female psycho played by Jessica S. Lange (not THE Jessica Lange obviously) but she didn't even get a chance to really act until the end.

It's not just her though but everyone involved seems to get a bit better as the film goes on. If you based any opinion on the performances in the first 20 minutes or so of the film then you'd probably dismiss the whole lot as a pile of crap and hope to never see any of these people work again. Yes, that is harsh but the "party scene" with its terrible dialogue and poor camerawork is even worse than watching "Cloverfield" and that's saying something. Actually there's probably nothing much worse than watching Phil Berbig (as the psycho Adkov Telmig) since he really has no real menace to him and doesn't come over very psychotic at all. Flawed writing or miscasting a nice guy who can't act into the role of the villain? I'm still not sure.

That's really the trouble with all these ultra low-budget independents though as people tend to rely on family, friends and acquaintances to fill the parts. Sometimes a filmmaker gets lucky and a few talented individuals stand out but unfortunately nobody stands out in a good way in "Unholy Reunion" apart from Shannon McDonough (as Vicky) who does look genuinely frightened during the denouement.

The only saving grace of the whole film is not blonde Jessica S. Lange's very predictable twist from becoming the nice Rebecca Davis into a crazy version as I really couldn't tell the difference but Jarrod Crook's performance as Scott (her kung-fu loving boyfriend). The fight scenes were so well choreographed that you just have to marvel at Jarrod's energy even if they are somewhat ridiculous. They aren't exciting as such but are well done and you can see the work that went into them.

Other than that I can't recommend "Unholy Reunion" to anyone. It's not just that I don't like these handycam-filmed, glorified YouTube videos in general but also that this one is a particular stinker. The only memory that I'll take away from watching "Unholy Reunion" is how all the actors stared into space for about 2 minutes after their characters were killed to make it look as if they were dead. It worked the first time but after that it just became boring and made me want to sit and stare into space myself rather than watching this film.

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