July 22, 2015

Reunion (2015)

"An unstable mental patient goes on an overnight rampage to terrorize an ex-rock star and his friends, only to discover she is linked to him in mysterious ways."

It's not often that I watch and review two indie horror screeners in a row. In previous years, I've tended to be more of a mainstream horror movie reviewer and would have preferred to keep things that way. Unfortunately, the theatrical horror releases this year have been fewer and further between than in the mid '90s, and like a lot of other bloggers, I found myself without anything to write about.

Instead of trying to compete with "zero day reviews" for movies in genres which I don't particularly care for, I've even been desperate enough to try reading books in my spare time (oh, the horror!), and I've now offered my services (dubious as they may be) to absolutely anyone who has a new horror movie to keep me entertained. I suppose it could be worse. At least I'm not watching any more sci-fi movies or comedies.

Unfortunately, for my review of the "Reunion" screener, I've only just finished reading Joe Hill's "Heart-Shaped Box" (2007), and ignoring the supernatural elements from that novel, I noticed more than a few coincidental similarities.

“Reunion” and “Heart-Shaped Box” both tell stories which feature a former rock star, contain scenes of domestic abuse fuelled by alcoholism, have characters with memories blotted out, exposition is revealed in flashbacks, and of course, their protagonists get stalked and sliced-up. There are other things, but I'm not allowed to say what they are at this time. My hands are tied, but I'm sure you'll finger it out... I mean figure it out for yourselves. Oops.

Although I've agreed not to give away any spoilers, some key elements also remind me of several of the late Richard Laymon's novels from my misspent youth, and I'll tentatively throw-in that there may also be some nods to "Halloween II" (1981), "Halloween" (2007), and ""Fright" (1971) as well. That being said, "Reunion" is far more modern and more in the realms of "extreme horror" than its precursors.

Lest I be misconstrued, I'm not saying that writer Bert Havird or director Shawn Chou consciously "borrowed" anything, especially as the movie adaptation of "Heart-Shaped Box" has been stalled for years, but "Reunion" is very much in the same vein and will definitely keep Joe Hill fans satiated. I know that I was.

With its non-linear storytelling and somewhat harrowing subject matter, "Reunion" might be a struggle for regular people to get through. There's a lot of shakycam for one thing, and there are several borderline arty moments which could put traditionalists off. If I wanted to be overcritical and harsh, I'd call the cinematography "pretentious and overambitious", but it's always better to be overambitious than to have no ambition at all, isn't it?

It's all very involved, and there's quite a lot (maybe too much) to keep track of. Even with a standard running time of just over an hour and a half, "Reunion" feels much longer and is emotionally draining to watch even for the most hardcore slasher aficionado. Underneath it all, however, you'll be pleased to know that the usual slasher tropes, character flaws, and stupid decisions abound. Yes, there's some fun stuff here too.

As I'm sworn to secrecy about the major plot points, I can't reveal anything more about “Reunion” other than it's a classy production with great performances and gallons of blood. I'm not sure if this movie is going to be as well received by the general horror fandom as something like “Starry Eyes” (2014), but it's likely to be very highly rated by millennial indie horror fans.

“Reunion” stars Maria Olsen, Jack Turner, Sarah Schreiber, Reign Morton, and Cara Santana. The supporting cast includes Ruth Reynolds, Arielle Brachfeld, Christopher Wolfe, Leif Gantvoort, and Matthew Jaeger.

For further details, please check out the official Facebook page.

Here's another teaser trailer:

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