Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Don't Go to the Reunion - Review

Don't Go to the Reunion (2013) *1/2
D: Steve Goltz
C: Stephanie Leigh Rose, Spencer Harlan, Matty Dorschner, Mike Goltz, Nick Sommer, Brady Simenson, Haley San Fillippo 

Plot Synopsis: A group of high school students involved in a prank that resulted in a fellow student being expelled are invited 10 years later to a reunion party. However, it seems as though someone's out for revenge for what happened in the past. Could it possibly be the victim of their prank? 

REVIEW: The people behind Don't Go to the Reunion have obviously seen plenty of slashers as there is an endless amount of in jokes and references. The classic archetypes are present as well: the final girl, the jock, the brain, the drunk, the fat girl, the caring, sensitive guy, etc. Despite very clear horror film archetypes, most of the cast fails to display and establish the personalities of these various archetypes. The only cast member that shows any real personality is Spencer Harlan, though his performance isn't entirely convincing. 

The film's plotting is uneven and all over the place. Over half the film's running time is spent establishing the prank, who the characters are and their return back to their hometown. Since the film has spent a good chunk of its running time establishing the characters and the overall scenario, the film then rushes through all of its murder sequences. And then there's the finale, which feels prolonged and protracted. 

The finale is one of those endings that feels as though the people behind it have thrown it in just to show us how clever they are. It comes across as smart alecky and not as a natural progression of the events that have occurred in the film. It's one of those endings that's not in the moment.  

However, the people behind Don't Go to the Reunion have made one of the biggest mistakes that a slasher film can make, it isn't scary and it isn't suspenseful. There isn't enough cat & mouse elements. There isn't enough scenes showing the killer stalking his or her victims from afar. There isn't enough tension and unease leading up to each of the film's various death sequences. And when the death sequences arrive, they are poorly staged, poorly executed and far too repetitive. 

I also found the film's tone confusing. The people behind it say that they wanted to make an homage to the slasher films of the 80's. The premise lends itself to an old school slasher, but the overall tone is far too referential for it to ever evoke the spirit of the 80's. While the characters are various archetypes present in an 80's horror film, the way that they behave and act feels more along the lines of a Scream film. The film goes back and forth, never quite finding its footing. It's the type of film that is in search of an organizing principal. 

The people behind Don't Go to the Reunion obviously love slasher films, but they don't have a clear understanding of the slasher genre, as a whole, as they forget key fundamentals and key scenes. It's one thing to have enthusiasm for the genre, but you have to be able to execute as well. For a slasher film that thinks it knows it all, Don't Go to the Reunion oddly enough feels like a beginner's take on the genre. [Not Rated] 70 mins.

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