It’s been fifteen years since Janeth (April Hartman) found her mother, Winona (Paula Marcenaro Solinger), dead in bed, with two bite marks in her neck. Back in her hometown, Janeth tries to visit her mother’s grave, but when she finds it things are not as she suspected. For one, there’s no head stone and the grave is significantly set separate from the rest of the cemetery. Additionally, it appears to have bars over the top of it.
Angry, Janeth instructs the caretaker, Victor (Carl Bailey), to clean up the grave. In the meantime, she makes a friend with local Mike Rivers (J.B. Brady), who offers to let her stay at his sister Gina’s apartment while she is out of town. When Victor is found dead the next day, and the grave disturbed, local priest Matthew (Richard Houghton), father to Mike, fears that the vampire menace he and his coroner friend Wilford (Chris Macone) stopped over a decade ago has returned.
And he’s right. Winona has risen from the grave, intent on getting revenge on the priest, and his family and friends, for trapping her in her grave for all those years, instead of staking and beheading her like the priest did with all the other vampires. Of course, the priest would’ve finished her off, but he was stopped by local law enforcement, embodied by Detective Rance (Tim Newkirk), who didn’t believe in vampires and found Priest Matt and Wilford’s behavior to be ghoulish, if not criminal.
Jim DeVault’s Blood Reunion is intriguing in that it’s a revenge horror movie where the person seeking revenge is pissed off that no one killed her. Thus, it’s a “misery loves company” revenge scenario, and that gives the film a unique angle to operate from. Unfortunately, that angle is marred by filmmaking choices no doubt connect to low resources, and acting that is more miss than hit.
Regarding the former, for example, more than a few shots appear to be done day-for-night which, if your lighting budget or resources in general are limited, I understand the choice. The unfortunate result is that the image appears to be stuck in a low contrast blue-gray fog that doesn’t look all that great. Proper lighting, and the scenes being shot at night, can eliminate many of these issues, if indeed these sequences were shot day-for-night and not in some weird twilight time where everything just looks horrible.
On the acting front, most everyone is passable at best, but no one comes out looking all that great. I’m usually not one to single any actor out, especially when the whole troupe is obviously not having their best day, but Tim Newkirk’s performance as Det. Rance is particularly distracting. I don’t know why he chose to go a route that made him sound like Jack Palance crossed with Agent Smith from The Matrix, but his performance is all quiet gravel and drawn-out cadence. If that’s how he sounds and talks in real life, I apologize, but it appeared as though he made an acting choice that backfired, at least for me.
In the end, save the somewhat unique revenge angle, Blood Reunion is a low budget horror film that looks and sounds like a low budget horror film. It’s not particularly good, but I have friends who adore movies like this, so I know an audience exists for this type of flick. For me, it was weak and forgettable.
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