Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reunion, hailing from promising director and writer Jake Mahaffy, blends magical realism, psychological thriller, slow-burn mystery, and shocking terror into an impressive and haunting modern horror yarn. Ellie (Emma Draper) has always had a troubled relationship with her mother, Ivy (Julia Ormond). Heavily pregnant, Ellie returns to spend time with Ivy, who is busy packing up her parents’ home in preparation of putting it on the market. Reliving old memories through the grunge of fading VHS tapes and the familiarity of trauma, Ellie’s pregnancy looms large. At odds with Ivy, the simmering relationship between the two women wavers dangerously close to the edge. Both Emma Draper and Julia Ormond are incredible opposites who devour juicy dialogue. 

As soon as it started, Reunion reminded me of last year’s disappointing Relic. The rocky relationship between a mother and her daughter, and a creepy old house with strange noises and eerie visuals, reflect obvious surface-level similarities between the two films. Unlike Relic, Reunion actually pays off the slow-burn narrative with an outrageous climax where every major storyline comes to a shocking head. The VHS effects bleed into the visual structure, adding to the layer of intriguing atmosphere and expert direction. The more Ellie’s psyche deteriorates, the more horrifying and gory each sequence becomes. Gently weaving in religion, gaslighting, and witchcraft, Mahaffy crafts an emotional clashing of female power. Grimy, relentless horror acts as the cherry on top of Reunion’s impressive family drama.

Reunion screened as part of the virtual Oxford Film Festival, unfolding April 1st – April 30th. The film is now available on all VOD platforms.

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