Don’t Go to the Reunion is an independent film, an homage to popular slasher fiction of the 1980’s and 90’s and has a budget next to nil. You can pretty much guess all three of these facts by the title alone. The title itself plays on the “Don’t” subgenre popular during the late 70’s and early 80’s, a personal favorite of mine that was spoofed to perfection by Edgar Wright in his “DON’T” faux trailer featured in the movie Grindhouse. Once I knew that a new release was coming with a “Don’t” title I was excited to review it. Let’s see how it holds up against the other titles in this grouping, and figure out who it’s meant for.
A prank goes too far for the popular students at Hamilton High as they begin to pay for their actions 10 years later at their high school reunion.
So straight out of Slasher Studios comes a movie with a formulaic plot. You only need insert “new and improved” or slight variation of previous plot element to make a new Don’t flick. That’s absolutely okay. No one said that Steve Goltz and Kevin Sommerfield were trying to reinvent the genre or even truly create anything novel. Their aim is to entertain. That’s actually quite noble. On a smaller budget. With a wealth of inspiration slash and hack films at their disposal, they’ve chosen to create something for horror movie lovers. Unfortunately Don’t Go to the Reunion didn’t exactly leave this slasher fan all that entertained. Again, not because of the subject matter or that its approach is to recap kills from films of horror movies past.
The acting is somewhat flat. If you’re going to create an homage to the slasher genre, your actors have to be loved or hated in order to gain the attention and approval of the audience. If we don’t love your characters, we can’t root for them to survive. If we don’t hate your characters, we can’t root for them to die. If we don’t love the protagonist, the “victims”, then we better want to root for the killer. You’d think that, as a horror fan, I’d want to root for the disgruntled horror fan. You know I did that once before? During Scream, and there in lies one of the greatest flaws of Don’t Go to the Reunion; its reliance on slasher films of the late 90’s ie Scream. An homage does not play copycat, it simply suggests the original source work. Unfortunately Don’t Go to the Reunion comes a wee bit close to Scream’s formula though without Scream’s charm, performance or gut wrenching kills. Since the meta-horror aspect of Scream is dropped for Don’t Go to the Reunion, it isn’t a copycat in totality but it lacks one of the most intriguing element of the slasher genre in recent years.
That doesn’t mean that the kills weren’t fun, and that’s something you’re allowed to enjoy in slasher film. You don’t have to actually enjoy the plot or the acting or the movie at all. Just as long as the kills have merit. There’s a solid reference to a Friday the 13th kill (it’s a fan favorite to be sure). They bloodletting is the focus of the action, and it’s entertaining. Yes, it’s low budget, but some of the best slasher fare are low budget. Yes these kills each pay respect to a source work, but that’s to be expected and enjoyable. I mean no disrespect to the filmmakers, but one way you might consider watching Don’t Go to the Reunion is with a finger on the fast forward to the kill sequences. They’re fun and the obvious attention of the director perhaps as it should be.
So I can’t recommend Don’t Go to the Reunion to everyone. It’s not a movie for the casual pop horror fan who likes big productions. Fans of a lower budget movies who want to see some people killed who enjoy effects made on a budget. So Don’t Answer the Phone. Don’t Go in the House. Don’t Go in the Attic or the Basement… Don’t Go the Reunion unless you’re ready for a release like this. To end this on a positive note, the guys got the poster art dead right. Proper respects paid to the slasher subgenre including Happy Birthday to Me and others. Well done.