Written and Directed by Jake Mahaffy
After leaving an abusive relationship, pregnant Ellie goes to stay at her grandparents house which her mother is clearing out in preparation of putting it up on the market. Her main reason for staying at the home is somewhere quiet and peaceful to finish her book about the link between black magic and medical scientific methods and theories but her mother’s disapproval over her interests sees this project put on the back-burner. It’s probably for the best, especially when Ella begins to be haunted by memories of the past. Overwhelmed by guilt, she sets about to try to put right the wrongs in her life but whats secrets have her own family been hiding at the home they’re too keen to sell?
Modern gothic thriller REUNION is without a doubt a weird film, and I mean weird with a capital W. Rooms and scenes blend into one another at times and it’s hard to keep track where in the house we are, with a character that is seemingly having a nervous breakdown of sorts or is overly emotional due to her pregnancy. We get the feeling it could be a blend of both, but there’s certainly something not right about this mother and daughter relationship. As we learn about Ellie’s suspicions of modern medicine and refusal to seek proper medical treatment or pregnancy scans, and hear about her violent outbursts, our initial impression of Ella isn’t a good one. As she starts to see the ghost of a young girl around her grandparents’ home, you start to ask questions about who exactly Ellie and her family are, especially when these apparitions aren’t a surprise to mum Ivy either. As the film digs deeper, more pieces are placed into the puzzle until we begin to see the bigger picture and everything we thought we knew we see in a new light.
A fascinating spiral as the yarn unwinds tells us more about this family than we could have imagined and it’s not all that suspicious or mysterious as first anticipated but it sure is creepy! The film’s visuals play out like a nightmare and you’re not too sure what you’re watching on screen is real, an hallucination or a flashback, as the film likes to blend the past with present. As the film approaches the final quarter, the story really does turn up a notch, linking previous elements together although more detail on certain revelations would have piqued my interest.
An intimate movie, REUNION mainly takes place within a stunning period property that oozes character from every room, even if each space is littered with wrong-labelled boxes due to the house clearance. It’s a feast for the eyes and is much a character of the film as our human cast. Though at first you get the feeling that it’s the house that holds some sort of sinister intentions, it quickly becomes apparent that’s not the case at all. throughout the movie, opinion shifts as personalities come to light. At the end of the day, this is a horror of the human kind although the house plays a wonderful host for the past guilt and grievances to play out.
REUNION is a different type of horror than what we’re used to and for the most part plays out like a dysfunctional family drama albeit with supernatural elements. There’s plenty to like about this slow burner but it seems to fall short and fails to explore its full potential. It felt as though when we finally got to the meat of the story that it decided to rush through it; a missed opportunity when this was the best bit of the film. The choppy editing may not appeal to all either but works well to disorient viewers as it clearly does for our lead character Ellie. The back and forth between Emma Draper as pregnant Ellie and her mum Ivy, played by Julia Ormond, is great to watch and is really what holds the viewer throughout the 90 minutes running time, especially as very little else happens except for Ellie rummaging through boxes and being plagued by visions of the past.
Although it fails to capitalise on a few intriguing details, REUNION has just enough to capture your curiosity as as it takes you on a nightmarish journey through one family’s troubled history.