Review: 'Brief Reunion,' a social-media thriller, is a blah post

"Brief Reunion" adds a social-media angle to a time-tested thriller template, one that's been used to deliciously entertaining effect in such movies as "Strangers on a Train," "Purple Noon" and "With a Friend Like Harry": An old friend or new acquaintance insinuates himself into a seemingly tranquil life, with lethal consequences.

Writer-director John Daschbach's feature debut is efficiently told and features solid performances, but without the juicy character detail, vise-grip suspense or black comic intensity of its memorable forerunners, it unwinds as a boilerplate genre item.

The nightmare begins for New England entrepreneur Aaron (Joel de la Fuente) on his 40th birthday, when long-time-no-see college pal Teddy (Scott Shepherd) takes his online friend request to the next level.

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Armed with an inappropriately expensive gift, he crashes the celebratory dinner that Aaron's wife, Dartmouth instructor Lea (Alexie Gilmore), has planned. The shifty Teddy accelerates his stalking, posting increasingly incriminating photos on Facebook until Aaron takes the blackmail bait.

Whether the dirt that Teddy has on Aaron is worth all the ensuing trauma is debatable, even as De la Fuente makes clear that image-conscious Aaron couldn't tolerate such tarnishing.

He and Gilmore convincingly portray the effects of Teddy's poisonous intrusion on the marriage, and the summertime countryside makes a disconcertingly bright setting for the dark doings, measured out in status update beeps on Aaron's laptop.

But Daschbach's characters aren't sharply defined enough to ensnare the viewer in their trajectory of disaster.


"Brief Reunion." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes. At Laemmle's NoHo 7, North Hollywood.

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