South Korea tends to give us pretty chilling tales and crazy plot twists and several (most notably The Host and A Tale of Two Sisters) seem to have a wide audience. I don’t watch as many Asian horror films as I use to because I am one of those elitists that has always watched Asian horror but feels a need to stop when others are doing it. Bloody Reunion was released in 2006. It’s a shame it took me so long to get to it because it’s highly original and entertaining. There are a couple of plot holes and things that needed to be cleared up that weren’t but overall the story telling was immaculate.
The film opens with a detective discovering the gruesome handiwork of a serial killer but we only get to see the handiwork for a second with a chilling shriek. Cut to a pregnant woman bleeding and giving birth to a deformed boy and her husband hanging himself. This poor woman becomes a teacher and keeps her deformed son locked up in the basement, wearing a white bunny mask over his face. 16 years pass and the teacher is dying. A batch of her students have a reunion at her beautiful home to pay their respects before she dies and this turns into a horrific murder spree. A bunny masked killer is amongst the group, killing them off one by one. It appears that this teacher may not have been so nice. Each of the students have a bone to pick with her and a few of them even come close to killing her. This is where the excellent story telling comes in. They all grew up to be complete losers and couldn’t stop thinking about the torment they endured from Miss Park. One of the students use to be a fat girl and Mrs. Park use to pinch her fat on the scale and make fun of her. This caused the girl to undergo a lot of work and transformation into becoming a more attractive woman. There may have been some molestation with another student but the hints were very subtle. She made fun of others for being poor, ruined an athletic students leg, and made fun of a girl’s present on Teacher’s Day. There’s much more to this story that I will get into under the spoiler alert below. There were so many twists and three potential killers. Just when you think you know what’s going on, the filmmakers pull the rug out from under us. It’s almost as if they’re saying NEENER NEENER NEENER, I GOT YOU! JUST KIDDING!
Much of the film seems to be suspense but there are a few scenes that get down right disgusting. There’s razor blade slashing followed by an individual getting razor blades forced into his mouth with a pot of water, making him swallow the blades. Another individual’s eye lids are cut out with a razor. Then there’s a victim getting bludgeoned to death after being covered with ants. The special effects were pleasing. It’s not wall-to-wall effects but enough to please gore fans.
I dislike watching dubbed films. Watching the film with subtitles is what I prefer because at least then I can hear the tone in their voice along with seeing the expressions on their face. Overall, I didn’t have a problem with any of the actors. Yeong-hie Seo plays Mi-Ja. She has actually been in quite a few horror films. I found the scene where she breaks down to reveal her trauma to be pretty conniving. Mi-hee Oh plays Miss Park convincingly. I actually felt sorry for her character throughout the entire thing, even when she was portrayed as the bad guy. There’s plenty of character development but after the film is halfway over with you learn that none of the characters matter because it’s only Mi-Ja’s story.
The direction and camera movement drove me nuts. What was the point of having a shaky cam in particular scenes? The camera zooms in and out. This is probably the biggest problem I have with the film. I’m not sure if it’s on purpose or because they’re amateurs but I do know for a fact that I am not the only critic who has commented on this. Other than this and the plot holes in the story, it was pretty good and one of my favorite Korean horror films.
Twist Ending Revealed (Spoilers Below)
For those of you who don’t understand the ending, it’s all pretty clear if you pay attention. At the beginning we establish that we are being told a story by another person. Never trust that the individual telling the story is telling the truth. Mi-Ja was lying to the detective. None of those deaths actually happened that way. It happened the way depicted at the end of the film. They were all poisoned then stabbed to death. I actually like the way this scene was carried out and thought it was artistically done with the white dress and subtle amount of blood. What doesn’t make sense is that at the beginning of the film, the detectives see the bodies strung up exactly the way they were in the alternate story. If that’s not how they really died then why is the detective seeing it this way. Like I mentioned above, major plot holes in the story. Some seem to be confused by the ending. If they ended up in the hospital then how are they at the pier at the end of the film when they commit suicide? If you pay attention, the detective is told that they disappeared so I am guessing Mi-Ja got her clothes back and ‘sneak’ Miss Park out of the hospital which is highly unlikely. Another thing that has not been made clear is if Miss Park really had a deformed son and husband that committed suicide. We know that she was actually a good teacher and well liked unlike Mi-Ja described her but we don’t know if those characters actually existed. The deformed son may have been symbolism. Miss Park did treat Mi-Ja/Jung-Won poorly though. Making fun of her weight, her gift, and the fact that she was poor. She never mentions molestation. Finally, there are dream sequences in the film. I have a problem with this. The story is being fabricated by Mi-Ja/Jung-Won so why is she fabricating dreams?