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Cutting Class

Bloody Reunion (2006)

AKA To Sir With Love – this title does not fit this film and makes absolutely no sense. So we’re going with Bloody Reunion, which does fit and does make sense. There is a reunion. And it is bloody.

Our movie begins in a classroom, with adolescent students making arts and crafts while a young, pregnant teacher, Mrs. Park, supervises them. Later, the children are outside playing in the water (I guess this is recess? it seems Mrs. Park conducts her classes from her home) and the teacher is sitting at the shore watching. Suddenly, blood begins pouring down her legs… I guess the baby is coming. Oh, I was right. And what a baby it is! Deformed in the tradition of the original Jason Voorhees or Phenomena‘s climactic creature, the parents find him so hideous that they keep him locked in the basement. One day it all becomes too much for the father, who if you ask me seemed like a real jerk anyway, and he hangs himself.

Now we skedaddle to many years later, which would be the present, and a detective is in that very same basement, examining a grisly tableau – a very Saw looking scene – lots of bodies, lots of the red stuff, lots of torture having been done. None of these people died peacefully in their sleep. So the detective makes his way to the hospital where the only two survivors have been taken. Mrs, Park and one of her former students, Mi-Ja, who was living with her and taking care of her. The teacher is unconscious, and Mi-Ja is by her side, traumatised it seems. The detective, understandably, wants to know what the hell happened. It is his job and all. So Mi-Ja begins to relate her tale…

And we go to flashback, which most of the movie takes place in. Mrs. Park is so ill that she requires a wheelchair, and the almost constant attentions of Mi-Ja. In an effort to lift Mrs. Park’s spirits, Mi-Ja invited several of her old classmates, and Mrs. Park’s former pupils, back to the house/school, for the weekend. Now if you have been paying attention, you’ll already know that these folks are DEAD MEAT and they’ll be lucky if they make it through the night.

As the students arrive, they are all eager to see their teacher. Mrs. Park is very happy they have come, but something seems off. It soon becomes clear that Mrs. Park is not the apple-pie-and-ice-cream nice lady that she appears.

At dinner, one of the students, who has been drinking all day, explodes into a rage, chastising everyone for not being honest and saying how they really feel about their old teacher, and how she actually treated them. He says the only reason he came back was to tell her off.

All of the students have bad memories of her, memories that stunted them, memories of her maliciousness and cruelty. One of the students was an athlete and after losing a race, the teacher forced him to do so many squats as a punishment that he blew out his leg, an injury that still troubles him, and dashed any dreams of future athletics he had. One of the female students, who was overweight in the past, has quite changed now and is almost unrecognizable to everyone – recalls that one day, as Mrs. Park weighed her, the teacher made fun of her her for being fat and joked that she almost broke the scale. This young woman is now so obsessed with perfecting herself, that the hospital refuses to do any more plastic surgery for her because they feel she is unbalanced. The young woman constantly wears sunglasses throughout the movie because of the stitches still in her eyelids. The teacher, when reminded of these things, is confused and seems unable to remember any of it. It is even implied that the teacher seduced and slept with one of the students.

A shy young man who was also once one of Mrs. Park’s students showed up at her house a year ago and has been helping out around the property. His mother was hit by a car when he was in school, and because of her accident he dropped out and no one had seen him until his recent reappearance. The shy boy has a memory of Mrs. Park’s son, in the basement, wearing a paper bunny mask he had made to hide his face.

Well, before long, it appears that anyone left alone with the teacher will recite their own story of how she shamed or abused them and a few “accidents” occur, in which the teacher almost loses her life. Mi-Ja is the only one in the group who doesn’t seem to have any woes or ill-will about Mrs. Park.

Darkness falls, some attempt to sleep, some stay up to discuss their teacher and the old days, and some find their way to the beach. And an uninvited guest makes his presence known – he’s wearing a bunny mask, and he seems to have some complaints and an agenda of his own.

Nothing in this movie is what it appears. None of these students have turned out to be very happy or successful and they all blame Mrs. Park in some way for their failures. She ruined them, is their reasoning.

I did feel bad for Mrs. Park – sure was a real witch in the past, as we get to see – but now she seems like a completely different woman, and she genuinely does seem to care about her students, and not remember anything of what she did to them then.

During the middle section of this film, when the killer first appears and is stalking away, I was really digging this film. I was almost ready to christen it one of the best slashers made in the past twenty years – and perhaps one of the best slashers ever made, period. But then as the end approached, it started to run out of steam, the seams began to show and it came apart.

Of course it must be hard to maintain this kind of exciting and exacting momentum, and while the ending for me did not completely ruin the film, I’m not sure it did it any favors. It is easy to see how the script had such a good set-up and how it would be difficult to produce a pay-off satisfying enough to please everyone and at the same time really wow us. I can’t say we’re cheated, but we do feel shortchanged all the same. This is one of those films with multiple endings and none of them are truly as rewarding as the eighty minutes that came before. The first ending is nothing short of a letdown, the second is full of pathos and does on examination ALMOST hold up – it doesn’t really answer any questions, but instead spins everything we had seen into a new perspective, leaving us a lot to wonder about. For a film that was so flawlessly executed for the majority of its run time, it is hard not to be disappointed that that level of competence was not maintained throughout.

Nevertheless, it is well made, well photographed, and it sure did make me squirm – it has some of the sickest death scenes in recent memory and it is one WET sounding film.

Think April Fool’s Day on steroids, with an Identity, The Usual Suspects and High Tension cocktail. And – finally! – we have an Asian horror film without the so familiar long dark-haired vengeful dripping wet ghost girl. B-

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