24 May 2008 | gavin6942
Not Your Typical High School Reunion, But Not as Boring
A group of friends from high school are called to meet up at a cabin in the woods. But when they arrive, their benefactor (presumably wealthy) is nowhere to be found. Danger and death lurk behind every tree, and a mystery is brewing: where is the old friend and who is killer on the prowl? Are they one and the same? "Reunion of Terror" is the brainchild of Michael Hoffman, a fresh face on the horror scene and a welcome one at that. While this film isn't the next living legend, it has enough good qualities that it deserves attention and Hoffman's profile ought to be elevated. A little fine-tuning and Hoffman could be a name familiar to horror fans worldwide (heck, if Mick Garris can do it, we all have a chance).
Where "ROT" excels is in creating a mood. If we had to sum this film up in three words, they would be mood, mood, mood. The beginning is full of establishing shots, and we are treated to more of these throughout the film. Plenty of "spooky" and "creepy" pictures flash across the screen, while music that is equally terrifying plays in the background. Hoffman's focus on mood rather than plot has its drawbacks, but he certainly knows how to set a tone. This is something all too often forgotten in the mainstream, where I haven't felt as unnerved as this in years.
The cast of characters is interesting. There's the gas station attendant with a redneck midget sidekick, various post-high school stereotypes, the warden and of course the lesbians. The lesbians dominate the first half of the film, being drunk and randy doing things that straight guys are going to want drunk and randy lesbians to be doing. You want hot, steamy action? This is the best you'll find outside of "Raiders of the Lost Arse".
The mystery of the killer's identity is really well done. Is it the dirty gas station cashier? The panty-sniffing game warden (unfortunately with the weakest acting in the film)? The hitch-hiker with the knife and very short shorts? The missing friend? I just kept guessing until the end... so there's a thick slab of suspense waiting for viewers.
The only real complaint I have about "ROT" is that the pacing drags at times. We have too long between deaths (when people aren't dying or fooling around, they're not doing much else in this film). And the blood doesn't flow enough. The opening deaths are messy, but we lose this beautifully morbid artistry from that point on. Luckily the mystery of the killer is so well scripted that even during my moments of boredom I couldn't leave my seat because I didn't want to miss a clue.
"Reunion of Terror" is the work of a budding director. Picture the caterpillar and the butterfly. While "ROT" has the rough edges of a first film and a film with a limited budget, Michael Hoffman is a man with a vision and his work is poised to bloom. I fully encourage horror fans to give this one a chance, and keep your eyes open for his follow-up, because I suspect we're going to see something big.