Claustrophobic and chilling Reunion is a deft horror dealing with memory and inheritance that sees a family coming together only to be torn apart again when ancient and awful secrets are uncovered.
The story centres around Ellie (This Town’s Emma Draper) who is heavily pregnant and recently single. Returning to her grandparents home after 13 years away she seeks quiet to finish her book about the relationship between magic and science and solace in the familiarity of her family home.
Sadly her relationship with her mother and father is a severely fractured one. Her mother Ivy (Julia Ormond from Sabrina, The Walking Dead: World Beyond) is a powerful matriarch determined she knows what is right for her daughter and grandchild to be. Treating the adult woman like a child she bosses her around causing the rift that is already open between them to tear even further.
Her wheelchair bound father Jack (The Lord Of The Rings John Bach) is a fraction of the overbearing figure he was when Ellie was a child. A doctor who used the house to practice and research the once great and tyrannical man has become a blabbering wreck physically and mentally incapable of communicating clearly or taking care of himself.
As her mother bustles about packing up the multitude of possessions they seem to have amassed and sorting out the house to be sold, Ellie attempts to finish her book and prepare for her child’s arrival however dark dreams and disturbing visions draw her back to her own childhood bringing about questions that demand an answer.
Most unsettling of all is the appearance of her dead sister Cara (Ava Keane) who was killed in a terrible accident that Ellie was involved in. The red dressed waif haunts her sister forcing her to revisit and reevaluate patchy moments from the past, moments that may or may not have played out as Ellie remembers.
As the expectant mother unlocks the secrets hidden from her for so long everything she once believed is thrown into chaos but the true question placed before her is can she survive the truth when she finally finds it.
Written and directed by award-winning director Jake Mahaffy, known for Free In Deed and Wellness, Reunion is an immensely atmospheric horror drawing comparison with the hugely popular and acclaimed Hereditary, Relic and The Babadook due to its family centred story line and deeply psychological elements.
It’s real power comes from the pitch perfect performances predominantly from the two female leads Emma Draper and Julia Ormond whose characters are complex and very well realised. Both have strong wills and opinions and constant clash over the past and present. Falling back into old roles mother and daughter wage a war of words that inflicts wounds new and old as the pair struggle to find a place in each others futures.
Although we see most of the movie through Ellie’s eyes the audience is unclear what is fact or fiction as the dead drift through rooms, the past invades the present and horrifying images appear. The worst of all is Ellie’s encounter with her unborn child a scene reminiscent of Erasrehead with its deformed and upsetting creation hidden in one of the packing boxes.
With reality presented as a malleable object our sympathy’s switch throughout the film as information slowly drips out like the disgusting black liquid seeping from the kitchen taps. At times it seems Ellie is the unhinged perpetrator both as a child and now yet at others it is her family that conspire against her and cause all the irreconcilable damage she endured.
All this deliberate confusion leads us to the insane yet cathartic ending where the entire sordid and scary story is laid out before both Ellie and the viewer causing a series of shocking realisations that push the horror up to another level. All this leaves us wanting to rewind and watch Reunion a second time with fresh new eyes, something I am sure many people will do both to clear things up and revel in the darkness all over again.