Movie Review: “Reunion”

February 6, 2021

Written by Joseph Perry

Joseph Perry is the Film Festival Editor for Horror Fuel; all film festival related queries and announcements should be sent to him at He is a contributing writer for the "Phantom of the Movies VideoScope" and “Drive-In Asylum” print magazines and the websites Gruesome Magazine, Diabolique Magazine, The Scariest Things, B&S About Movies, and When It Was Cool. He is a co-host of the "Uphill Both Ways" pop culture nostalgia podcast and also writes for its website. Joseph occasionally proudly co-writes articles with his son Cohen Perry, who is a film critic in his own right. A former northern Californian and Oregonian, Joseph has been teaching, writing, and living in South Korea since 2008.

Familial horror has been a hot subgenre the past few years, and the New Zealand chiller Reunion is a fine entry into that category. Although the film is rich with the dark arts and the supernatural, it is bolstered by fine drama with performances focusing on a highly tense mother-and-daughter relationship and a secret that threatens to drive their troubled family even further apart.
Ellie (Emma Draper), heavily pregnant and recently separated from her abusive fiancé, returns to her childhood home — fittingly, a large, dark gothic dwelling — after her grandparents pass away to finish a book she is writing about science and the occult. Unbeknownst to her, her estranged mother Ivy (Julia Ormond) is there, ostensibly to work on preparing the house for appraisal while taking care of family patriarch Jack (John Bach), who is suffering from dementia. Ellie’s old flame Gus (Cohen Holloway) is doing restoration work on the house.

Ellie and Ivy are at odds from their initial meeting, with the mother offering to take care of a stressed-out Ellie, and the daughter wanting little to nothing to do with her. Ellie begins having visions of her adopted sister Cara (Ava Keane), who died when the two were preteens, as well as having nightmarish visions of her baby. As fantasy meshes with reality further and further with Ellie — Ivy mentions that the young woman is off her meds — the film drives toward unspeakable truths that haunt the family, leading to a trippy, unsettling third act.
Writer/director Jake Mahaffy does a solid job balancing the family drama between mother and daughter and building suspense and mystery. He is greatly aided by the one-two punch of Draper and Ormond, who have great chemistry together as an embattled daughter and mother duo. The supporting cast is terrific, as well. 

Reunion deals with the enigmatic and the eerie rather than going for splatter and shocks — though there are some superb special effects on display that would be venturing into spoiler territory if mentioned here. Viewers interested in psychological horror and mounting tension should find plenty to enjoy with this fine offering.
Reunion, from Dark Sky Films, will be available in theaters and on VOD and digital platforms from February 5, 2021. 


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