The Horror Honeys: "Don’t Go To The Reunion" and The State of Slashers

"Don’t Go To The Reunion" and The State of Slashers

A Guest Slasher Honey Editorial Review by Chassity

Don't Go To The Reunion (2013)

Recently, I watched Don’t Go To The Reunion for the first time, and while I thoroughly enjoyed it, it also got me to doing a whole lot of thinking. 

You see, while I’m of the mindset that the phrase “80s throwback” is tossed around too much these days when it comes to horror movies (and particularly slashers), in this case it was fitting. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that it’s the ultimate 80s slasher throwback. With some 90s throwback references tossed into the mix for good measure. 

Don’t Go To The Reunion is a slasher film about a group of people who played a practical joke on another student when they were teenagers—a joke that of course ruins the victim’s life—and 10 years later find themselves drawn to a house for a reunion, where they are each killed off one by one.

Let me just state this disclaimer upfront: If you’re not a slasher movie fanatic (and I do mean fanatic—not casual, occasional watcher) you have no business watching this movie because it’s absolutely not for you. You simply won’t enjoy it. 

But for us hardcore moviegoers who live and breathe slashers, this film is one of those extreme love letters to the genre that makes you feel you’re in on a secret language. All the tropes and clichés are there. The film begins with a high school prank on a nerdy kid gone horribly wrong, has the typical misogynistic jerk male characters that are only there to make you hate them and look forward to their deaths, and pays tribute to the horror movies of the past with each death.

To be honest, the film follows every part of the formula for an 80s slasher with the revenge-seeking killer. The group rehashes the prank when they meet again ten years later, and discuss if the victim (Scott) is behind the mysterious invitation that brought them to the house, and if he’s even still alive (rumors are eventually confirmed that he did in fact kill himself).  They all get drunk and go off in different directions to make the murders easier. 

The best thing about the movie is how it pays homage to two different decades of horror, with a very 80s plot and a very 90s ending. The ending itself was the best it had to offer. There’s reference after reference to films that any slasher fanatic would at least have heard of, and it is definitely the scene with the best acting. 

So there’s all that. But, really that only touches the surface of this movie’s importance. Watching it, for me, raised some major questions about the state of the slasher genre. 

Every year, when January comes around, I start searching for news about what movies—particularly horror and slashers—are slated for that year. And every year, lately, I’ve been disappointed. The horror genre has been dominated by exorcisms, haunted houses, and all about the paranormal/supernatural. There have been times when I worried that the slasher film was all but dead. And then came the popularity of the slasher remake/reboot. Which, okay, fine… it works every now and then. But given that most are mediocre at best, they don’t really do anything for the genre. 
But every now and then there’s hope. In the form of a movie like this. A rare original gem in the slasher arena. And more and more, I’ve noticed, these movies are being promoted as throwbacks and homages to the 80s. 

It makes me wonder if this is where the future of slashers is headed. With the exception of You’re Next (which was called a throwback to the 80s without losing any of its originality in the process) there is hardly a slasher film released nowadays that (if not a remake of something from the 70s or 80s) isn’t in some way tied to those decades of horror in homage/tribute form in one way or another.

Maybe this is just a result of a cyclical nature within horror. And maybe it’s not a bad thing. Look: any new, original slasher content is something to get excited about. But the truth is that that has become increasingly rare. So maybe the new trend is going to be trying to recreate the style of revenge slashers from the 80s, and to try to replicate the referential/self-referential nature of Scream and every 90s slasher that came after it. 

At the end of the day, films like Don’t Go To The Reunion are a much better way to keep the slasher alive than reboots and remakes that just detract from the originals (and therefore from the genre itself.)