Time for another movie review, this time of the film “Reunion” featuring again, the wonderful Maria Olsen.
This review will not contain any spoilers, and I will refrain from being specific with character or story references… after all, it is a horror movie and with the right atmosphere, an unacquainted viewer could get a fright or two.
I tend to believe in story telling as an art form, and movies are just one modern example of how our evolution has grown from cave-dwelling fire-side swappers of tales to the modern masterpieces of cinema, theatre and literature. However, while I believe in the promotion of such tales, I am careful with my praise of the results – for every Oscar winning magnum opus, there are many examples those more along the lines of “Plan 9 From Outer Space”.
Trailer for REUNION:
REUNION is neither high art, nor a throwaway iPhone clip. But unfortunately, it is a little closer to the latter than the former. While Maria gives a good performance as Mia, the slightly off-kilter (ha!) centre of attention in the film, her supporting infrastructure (plot, story, dialogue, pacing, editing, direction, etc.) is underwhelming (I’m being nice here). There are numerous clichés throughout the film, enough that anyone with a modest familiarity with classic thriller films (or even a good sampling of B horror movies) can piece together the characters’ arcs pretty quickly. It is one thing to brilliantly re-use tropes and iconic imagery to lead the story forward, or to pay homage to other works, but to badly use the same tired conceits, lighting, angles and actions seen in countless other films is to not only bore the viewer, but also disparage the works of past directors and cinematographers who created those classic visuals in the first place.
The story is choppy, the pacing ranges from awkwardly stagnant to chaotically confused, the characters are bland and unsympathetic, the action is stock (look! here comes the bad guy with a weapon! everyone look horrified and wait for the attack! oh look, a snarky asshole is going to meet his doom – saw that coming!), and even the setting fails to serve the dynamics of the plot, despite there being a number of opportunities for some really creepy shots.
For a horror movie to really succeed, the action has to involve the audience on some level – either they root for the bad guy to chop up the stupid sex crazed teens, or they actually feel something for a character and hope he or she doesn’t take an axe in the head, or the action is so intense and visually disturbing that the terror of the victim (or the horror of the villain) overpowers the emotional connections and the audience transposes themselves into the situation, allowing the fear to wash over their own ordinary lives and give them that vicarious adrenaline rush, that thrill of cheating death… or even succumbing to it.
In this film, none of the characters are identifiable or even mildly likeable. I felt nothing for any of the protagonists, and even the character of Mia failed to connect early enough to support the reasons for her later actions (although Maria really did try to give her some life). I really just did not care who lived or died, nor even how it happened.
So, no five star rating… more like a one. I see that the folks did try hard to make a good film, but it just didn’t work. The movie begins with the word, and in this case, the script would be where the blame starts… it failed to find a path and was a lost, muddled mess, even as the opening credits rolled. There are ‘twists’ but these twists are about as appealing and surprising as a bully running towards you, about to give your arm a pinch, and certainly far from the ‘broken neck’ twists that characterize movies like Psycho and Sixth Sense. But, all things being equal… there are worse films out there…