Reviews | Written by Matt Taylor 27/04/2021

REUNION FROM HELL

It’s fair to say that in the 43 years since its release, John Carpenter’s Halloween has spawned more than its fair share of knockoffs. Most of these aren’t worth bothering with, but occasionally one comes along that’s worth an audience’s time: Reunion From Hell is one of these. It’s rather cheesy and certainly won’t change your life, but it still manages to be a fun and enjoyable watch that pays homage to Carpenter’s original without ever feeling derivative of it.

Director Hayden Newman also stars as Riley Conner, a therapist who’s estranged from his family and friends and who returns home when he receives news that an old friend has been killed in mysterious circumstances. Upon his return, more friends start dying, and Riley is forced to figure out what’s going on.

On the surface, Reunion From Hell might not seem like much – but there’s a whimsical charm to it that manages to make everything click. Yes, it’s all rather silly, and the dialogue isn’t all that great, and some of the acting is pretty hammy, but it somehow just… works.

Its main strength is the chemistry between its core cast members. Despite much of the dialogue not doing them any favours, their chemistry feels authentic, and the film’s conversational scenes are some of its best for exactly this reason.

The various kill scenes are also rather enjoyable – and pretty impressive given the film’s meagre $35,000 budget (for context, Carpenter’s original Halloween had ten times this budget). They’re tenser than one might expect, and the blood and makeup effects are admirable, especially in light of monetary constraints and how much focus is given to them.

It’s also surprisingly refreshing to see a horror film that doesn’t treat its gay characters with complete disdain. The genre hasn’t been particularly kind to the LGBTQ+ community in the past, but Reunion From Hell does its best to move gay representation forward in the genre. It goes without saying that one little indie film like this isn’t going to change the world, but it’s certainly a nice start.

Admirably, Reunion From Hell somehow comes together pretty nicely. It’s not revolutionary by any means, but it certainly works as a love letter to the '80s slasher flicks that Carpenter first inspired well over forty years ago. Hollywood could certainly take notes from its representation of the gay community.

Release Date: April 30th (US)