A very moody and dark South Korean horror film, Bloody Reunion is primarily told through flashbacks as one of the survivors of a bloody massacre at a seaside home relates to a police officer the story of what led to the brutal murders.
The woman telling the story is Mi-ja, who was taken in by the owner of the home, a beloved school teacher of her childhood, Miss Park, one year earlier when she had nowhere else to go. For the last year, Mi-ja had been taking care of Miss Park, as the middle-aged former teacher was consigned to a wheelchair by a nerve condition.
In an attempt to rise Miss Park’s spirits, Mi-ja invited several of her former students to have a reunion at their teacher’s home.
Although Miss Park seems perfectly nice at this point in her life and was clearly at one time well liked by her students, it soon becomes confusing as to why any of the people Mi-ja invited bothered to show up, because they each have major issues with their old teacher. Engaged couple Eun-Young and Se-Ho are still insulted that Miss Park looked down on them for being poor. Dal-Bong sports a permanent leg injury from Miss Park forcing him to do squats… and she wasn’t even the gym teacher. Sun-Hee, who seems to never remove her sunglasses, has lived her life obsessed with her weight and looks since Miss Park mocked her for being obese. Jung-Won experienced a devastating day in her classroom.
Most of their issues with Miss Park stem from her motto, “Warm your friends with bitterness not sweet.” Meaning she tells them things that she feels will help them in their lives, not just things that they want to hear.
But that has no bearing on the worst transgression she’s accused of. There is suspicion that Miss Park used to sexually molest the student that was “teacher’s pet”, Myung-Ho.
The facade of pleasantries the former students put on for Miss Park soon begins to crumble. Sun-Hee gets dangerously close to pushing the woman off a cliff while telling her of the body issues her criticism caused. A drunken Se-Ho explodes with rage over how she used to treat them and how it has negatively affected their entire lives. Eun-Young nearly allows the woman to drown in the bath tub. Dal-Bong, also drunk, confronts her about his limp. There’s a lot of alcohol being passed around.
There also references throughout the day to Miss Park’s son, the darkest part of her history. A son born deformed, kept locked up in the basement of the house. The boy’s father was so disturbed by him that he hanged himself… mere feet away from the young child. As the boy grew older, he took to wearing a bunny mask to hide his features. That didn’t stop local kids from peering in through the basement window and making fun of him… Nobody seems to be sure what ever happened to Miss Park’s son.
Then, after nightfall, the attendees of this unhappy reunion start getting murdered. By a killer wearing a bunny mask. But this killer isn’t your average slasher, he doesn’t just cut a person up and be done with it. This film was made at the height of torture scenes being en vogue in horror movies, so this bunny-masked murderer makes the kills a bit more painful. He ties a man up and forces him to swallow razor blades. Strings another up and allows ants to crawl over him before bashing him out of his misery with a baseball bat.
I have to say, I much prefer simple hacking and slashing over these more elaborate, excruciatingly painful kills. But the movie isn’t really a slasher, even though it has elements of one. There’s more going on within this story than just people getting picked off one-by-one.
As the killer whittles down their numbers, the characters also start turning on each other. More than one of them attempts to remove Miss Park from the world.
And nothing is as it seems.
Director Dae-wung Lim and screenwriter Se-yeol Park put together a very intriguing story for Bloody Reunion, it takes twists and turns in unexpected directions. The situation among the characters is very layered, there’s a lot of real, strong emotional drama going on at Miss Park’s place.
Even when there’s not overt violence occurring, the atmosphere of the film is heavy and oppressive, the tone is unnerving. Everyone on the screen appears to be a total basket case, and the dark cinematography by Yun-su Kim contributes to the feeling that puts the viewer on edge.
Bloody Reunion is a very uncomfortable movie to watch, but a great little psychological horror tale told in an interesting, truly unique way.