At a time when there’s a hunger for queer horror, many queer horror fans long to fulfill their lifelong dreams of being the final girl like the scream queens they worshipped growing up. And in this day and age of online crowdfunding to make a movie idea a reality, many aspiring creators are doing just that.
Therefore, as with most low budget indie horror films, don’t expect sleek style, high production value, or Hollywood caliber performances from the queer slasher Reunion from Hell. This is a passion project intended to bring more queer representation to the horror genre.
The opener delivers a well-crafted, low budget emulation of the first kill scenes from movies of the 1990s slasher revival. As is common with throwback indie slashers these days, the theme music during the intro credits is an homage to Carpenter’s Halloween theme, but smartly, just when it’s becoming too much of clone, it takes on a retro 80s life of its own and I was totally feeling it. It would be a perfect track to add to your Halloween party playlist.
This isn’t a high school reunion slasher as the title might lead you to believe. The film focuses on the main character, played by co-director/co-writer Hayden Newman, returning home after a tragedy and reconnecting with old friends and family members. Amazingly, Hayden’s mom is played by Cathy Podewell, main girl Judy in the original Night of the Demons. Awesome.
Notably, this film is as LGBTQ+ as it gets rather than pandering to a pretty boy crowd; these are supposed to be everyday people of varying orientations and gender identities from a small town, not gym bunnies from a fashion-forward metropolis. And Hayden takes full advantage of the narcissistic possibilities of playing the starring role in your own movie, portraying a character that is an absolute mess—smokes, pops pills, drinks, has panic attacks, is in therapy—yet is basically the center of every other character’s world. Heh heh.
As is often the case with these types of homebrewed indies, the film falters most in the way the plot unfolds. Rather than utilizing a variety of techniques or different approaches to the narrative to keep up the momentum and build suspense, the story is almost exclusively presented through weighted, dry dialogue delivered by characters sitting around a house talking. Taking even more of a toll on the pacing is the fact that there aren’t any traditional slasher elements to break things up: no sex scenes, no red herring to keep us guessing, no near encounters with the killer, no killer POV, no body reveals, no humorous moments, no particularly memorable characters to root for…although I’ll never forget the hot daddy sheriff and would totally have rooted for him if he’d gotten more screen time…
There are also very few kills during the course of the film—they are predominantly saved for a chaotic climax loaded with everyone running, screaming, and dying. It’s definitely the payoff we’ve been waiting for.
The killer’s mask is a goodie, the kills are impressively violent, and the gore is handled with practical effects, not CGI. And most importantly, it’s all about queer people and another movie to add to the complete homo horror movies page!