Bloody Reunion (US - DVD R1)
Gabe continues a string of reviews of movies with 'blood' or 'bloody' in the title..
A group of young adults is summoned to the house of their former elementary school teacher to reunite for the first time in a decade. The ex-teacher is very ill, and probably won't be living much longer, so now seems the ideal time to praise her past deeds. But things become complicated as tales behind her teaching methods come to light, and past grudges are brought forward. Soon party members are disappearing, captured by a mysterious masked man, who may or may not be the teacher's deformed son.
What really scares you? Violence? The unknown? Losing a loved one? Child abuse? Torture? School? Maybe you're the type of person that's scared to death that one day you'll wake up and realise you've done nothing spectacular with your adult life. The intelligent minds behind this deceptively simple slasher flick have you in mind if you answered yes to any of these questions.
Personally, as a horror movie kind of guy, I don't find myself too susceptible to physical, on-screen violence. I'm more effected by violence of the emotional kind. As a slasher flick, Bloody Reunion follows the stalk and kill formula laid out so well in the '80s. There's a nutty, quiet dude in a mask who sneaks around, whittling the film's cast down person by person. In light of popular modern slashers like Saw and Hostel, this killer tortures his victims to death rather than releasing them from their mortal coils with quick stabs to the gut. This kind of thing doesn't usually effect me very much beyond escapist entertainment.
Simply murdering empty cyphers probably won't do it for those of us who've sat through hundreds such movies before. There's a bit of the Giallo school culprit guessing thrown in too, but without 3D characters and an original premise how can a film be honestly scary? What is honestly scary is the kind of emotional violence that can cause an otherwise normal person to crack and torture a group of people to death.
The slasher aspects of the film actually end up acting as a release from the relentlessly depressing plot. Without the mainstream horror elements this is just the story of people that hate each other reliving past emotional and physical abuses. There's a brutality to the passive aggressive and slow building of resentment. It feels a little too real until the bunny-faced killer appears again from the shadows to slice and dice a bit more.
The graphic violence is not easy to ignore though, even I found it surprisingly intense at times. As a straight slasher this is the best I've seen in some time. The first part of the last act is a bit of a rollercoaster ride, discerning itself from every other slasher movie with some icky kills and an absurd sequence of events that left me laughing at the pitch black humour of the situation. There's another of these pointless twists that horror movies in general seem to think are required post- Sixth Sense, but it leads to a ending with genuine emotional impact. At its base, this is still just another slasher movie, but it makes no false claims and has a brain in its head.
Bloody Reunion is filmed almost entirely hand held. I imagine that in the theatre it might make me lose my lunch, but on my 42-inch screen it's pretty effective in creating a claustrophobic atmosphere in the film's early, non-slasher sequences. The film isn't pretty, obviously, but the disc still leaves something to be desired.
It's anamorphically enhanced, and bright enough for even the darkest of torture scenes to be discernable. Flesh tones vary quite a bit throughout, and reveal some compression artefacts. The real issue here is the lack of clarity. From opening to end titles it's obvious that a lot could've been done to de-blur the proceedings. The overall lack of blocking and compression artefacts is probably due to the fact that the transfer is so soft. Disappointing.
Again, as we've come to expect from Tartan, There are Dolby Digital and DTS tracks, and both are pretty much the same, with the DTS track having the edge on overall volume. Neither track will knock your socks off, but there’s some pretty clever and intense sound editing here, and even during quiet moments all six channels are lively. When characters shout there is a slight distortion to their voices, and sometimes matters become a little muddy. The score is very classy, and comes through richly on both tracks.
We've got another bag of the Tartan usual, a brief EPK, a director interview, deleted scenes, and trailers. The making-of is, again, an elongated ad, but this one is a bit longer than usual. If you like watching a film crew work, then you'll enjoy yourself, and the adorable actors talking about their characters is pretty endearing.
The special effects crew gives us a glimpse at their process in another featurette, and yet another featurette covers the film's promotional photography session. Both these are welcome additions.
The deleted scenes are brief, and include a director commentary. Surprisingly enough, I think the film might be a little better with them left in. One scene had to be trimmed for a severed ear, which is funny to me. Apparently dumping razorblade shards down a man's throat and making him swallow using boiling water is acceptable, but cutting his ear off is too far. Another of the scenes adds a level of creepiness to two characters, and makes their later actions a bit less random.
We wrap things up with Bloody Reunion original trailer, as well as a selection of other Tartan Asia Extreme coming attractions.
If you like slasher flicks, and like me the recent crop isn't doing the trick for you, give Bloody Reunion a shot. It doesn't do quite enough to transcend the genre, but offers some icky psychological thrills along with its icky visceral thrills. The constantly swirling camera might nauseate viewers more than the gory torture scenes, but really gets under the skin, and the ends seem to justify the means. The video quality is weak and blurry, but not hard to watch, and the audio and extras are pretty much average for Tartan.
Review by Gabriel Powers
This product has not been rated
Release Date: 13th March 2007
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: DTS 5.1 Korean, Dolby Digital 5.1 Korean
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Making of, Deleted Scenes, Photo Shoot, Make-up Effects, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Lim Dae-wung
Cast: Jang Seong-won, Kim Eung-su, Lee Dong-kyu
Length: 93 minutes
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