Thursday, February 21, 2008

Class Reunion Massacre

I found this movie by doing Google searches for obscure horror movies and making a fairly obsessive list of everything that sounded interesting, though now having watched it, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it once already. I have no idea where or when, though I wish I had remembered, because this is really not worth watching a second time.

It’s a pretty standard slasher plot. Six people are lured to their old high school under the pretense of it being their 10 year reunion, only to be trapped there by a madman that kills them off one by one in various ways of varying imagination. Given that my own ten year reunion is coming up this year, the idea does hold some amount of appeal for me, but it’s pretty poorly executed here. I realize that there are any number of DV horror movies being made now that seem to want to redefine the term “low-budget”, but I do like to think that we can still make the term stick to older movies like this one. The lighting is extremely poor, with almost every indoors scene so poorly lit that it’s sometimes difficult to distinguish between characters, or even tell what’s supposed to be going on. This isn’t helped by the film’s own remarkable continuity problems. Shortly after the six guests arrive, one of them discovers that every door leading outside has been locked behind them, leaving them trapped. A few minutes later, though, a character is seen outside, just stopped by a large gate (with the killer on the other side inexplicably dressed like the grim reaper). A few minutes after that, another character (these are all females, so it’s quite likely that at least two of these occasions featured the same actress and I just wasn’t up to the task of distinguishing between them) is somehow outside with no gate to worry about and no explanation given. I like to think that this just adds to the film’s overall charm, but you can feel free to come to your own conclusions.

So yes, the movie is more than a little muddled and perplexing, but does it at least function well as a horror movie? Well, I will acknowledge that there was an interesting death scene or two, but most were pretty generic deaths by gunshot or stabbing. The killer’s motivation is pretty muddled, as he’s a preacher that’s after them for having sinned somehow, but he spends most of the film in disguise as a clown for no reason at all (I have no problem giving away that it’s the preacher, since the back of the DVD case felt free in telling me), and he had no problem with randomly killing the school’s groundskeeper at the beginning, whose sin, I guess, was being handicapped. Still, the movie’s complete lack of sanity did make for some nice moments, as when they decide to get the furnace going to keep warm or burn the place down or something, only to open up the furnace and discover that someone has bricked it up from the inside, a feat that I tip my hat to the preacher for. The DVD is also in fullscreen, which can often hurt a movie, but it did provide an amusing moment here when we first see the big banner reading “ELCOME CLASS ‘6”. We’re also given some tender moments from the preacher’s church at the beginning, where one choirboy tells a dirty joke to his cohorts, and sees that one of the other choirboys didn’t laugh. Naturally, and I’m sure you’ll agree, he really had no choice in this instance but to say, “I told a joke. You didn’t laugh!” before whipping out a knife and holding it to the kid’s throat. The life of a choirboy can be pretty rough.

In the end, though, this film really doesn’t have that much going for it. It’s really slow to start off with, not killing off the first of the six classmates until over halfway through the film, and it has a ponderously long epilogue back at the church that feels like padding more than any real poignant way of ending things. It’s too dark and poorly made to really be able to appreciate most of what’s going on. The entertaining bits of the film are spread out enough that you can keep watching without completely feeling like you’re throwing your life away, but it doesn’t really provide anything more than that.

Rating: *

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