9.13.2009

Sorority Row (2009): "It's time to say farewell to the b****es of Theta Pi"




Wait for video. Or, wait a decade and return to it as a classic of 2000's horror.

Sorority Row is a great film to watch if you are/were in the greek system or if you hate sororites and fraternities. If you like constant jabs at Greeks, watching brothers and sisters die, and a plot line that is basically centered around why people who join these cultish things have their life sucked away, then you might enjoy Sorority Row more than you think. And if you are totally into the sorority/fraternity thing, then you'll probably still like it because you're too busy comparing all the onscreen keggers to your own fuzzy memories from your alma matter to realize that the movie is making fun of you.

The bitches of Theta Pi.

I'm going to be honest about my feelings towards the Greek system. In general, I think it's a big sham that allows lemmings to feel important about themselves. I know there are some legitimate greek organizations that do charity work and I had plenty of decent friends in college that were Greeks. However, about 75% of the stereotypes regarding sororities and fraternities are completely true. And this movie doesn't shy away from even the most repugnant preconceived notions. Indeed, the sorority sisters hardly pause when they talk of providing ruffies to a man that will slip them in one of their sister's drinks. Classy stuff girls. And don't worry, there's plenty of elaborate partying that tops Oscar after-parties I'm sure. Only these are full of belching idiots and attractive yet desperate women. Alcohol definitely flows more than blood in this ode to the lowest common denominator of the collegiate sphere. The good news is you have a cast of characters that you want to see die. There's no one to root for here.

A great, moody shot for a not-so-great scene.

You all know the setup. Prank goes wrong on the first day of senior year. On graduation day, someone starts killing them off one by one. Blah, blah, blah. It's an elementary slasher movie through and through, so you shouldn't set your expectations too high. You'll only wind up disappointed. You're better off going into this film knowing that ten or twenty years from now, a new set of bloggers will be calling this "one of those classic 2000's horror movies" much like the way we revel in 80's slasher cheeze. In that regard, Sorority Row succeeds in being it's own flavor of an exhausted premise. It has it's share of wit, sleaze, and interesting deaths. The whole "we killed somone, now we should cover up the body to protect ourselves" scenario is still full of cliches, but it's given a lot more consideration than usual. It seems to take them a while to reach a decision, while our Final Girl refuses until they all turn their backs on her, wrapping her bloody coat around the body and claiming that they will all blame the death on her if she goes to the police. At least they gave the main character a good reason to go along with the secret this time.

I like you, even though I shouldn't.

The "bitch" character from the original House on Sorority Row is somehow even more bitchy. Heinous sarcasm never alludes her, even in the most intense moments when she is in peril. She always finds a way to degrade human begins around her. A personal favorite is upon the discovery of a sister's corpse, she responds: "Ugh... she looks terrible." She is the most interesting character to watch, which probably isn't a good thing. Mean-spiritedness is way more fun, especially when it's soaking in bitterness towards sororities and fraternities. The other unique character that we get is Chugs. Yup, that's what they call her. Can you guess how she got that? Although she's pretty unlikeable, it was nice to see her character type in a film. It's not often that we see it. She's the nasty girl that will say anything, do anything, and drink anything. We all know girls like this--the one's that spout the F-word even when it doesn't make sense, the one's that will claim all sorts of sexual deviance for attention, the one's that always find the alcohol at any party. Let's just say that her death suits her and is one of the best in the film.

The Bird Cane Returns...with bubbles!
The usual stalk-and-kill unfolds during the middle, with a decent amount of actual stalking and build up. Recently, there haven't been too many horror films that make an attempt at creating suspense; instead they have been focused on surprise. Alfred Hitchock used to illustrate the difference between suspense and suprise by describing a dinner scene in which there is a bomb under the table. Suspense is showing the audience the bomb, letting them sweat it out in anticipation of the explosion. Will the characters find out? Will it actually go off? Surprise is not showing the audience the bomb. It just explodes. Two different ways to tell the same story. There is a place for both surprise and suspense in horror. However, shock has been used more frequently than stalk. So it was nice to see things drawn out, even if it's as silly as looking for vodka in the dark basement for five minutes. It was also nice to see another slasher staple return to the screen: the unique murder weapon! It's been a while since I've seen a modern horror film actually try to get creative with the killer's tool of dispatchment. In this case, it's a "pimped out" version of a tire iron. That is actually the way one of the sisters describes it and it's a great example of the easy-going nature of the whole movie.

The end of the movie includes people walking away from a fire in slow motion. That's always unnecessary but simutaneously enjoyable in my book. It somehow suits this film and summarizes it's tone; it seems to welcome the cheesiness of it all. It's ok to laugh in this one. It's not like they made a joke of a film or anything, it's just that it understands what it is. The acting is decent (some girls better than others), the cinematography has a nice style (but there are way too many out of focus shots), the editing could have been more effective (trim this sucker down another five minutes), and the production design was fun (outrageous parties are always cool to look at). There are a few nods to the original film, even though it strays far enough from it to not even be a remake, including the iconic (ok, recognizable) bird cane. It would have been nice if the film was more exciting, more unique, and had more interesting characters, but I'm not complaining because I knew what I was getting myself into. And I guess I understand why none of my friends would brave this with me in theatres, but that's what spouses are for.

This review is a little scattered because I am writing at 3 AM. Nothing like providing a summary of your swirling thoughts on a mediocre horror film when you can't sleep.

9 comments:

  1. I liked the scene where the remaining girls were walking away from the burning house. I think I liked the sweet music that went with it and all. Pretty entertaining movie

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  2. Well sheee-it, Becky, you and I had a lot of the same feelings on this one. :) Good review, as always. I liked Chugs a lot, actually.

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  3. Lol chugs was a whore. The best part of the movie is the two frat dudes talking to each other and the other one grabs his shoulders and proclaims "Youre so ripped". Lol man this was a nothing special waste of time... I cant wait till the remake of Krull so i can say no on would come with me, thats what spouses are for. PWND :D

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  4. Chugs was ridiculous. They couldn't think of a better name for her? If everyone was going to have such literal nicknames, the blond one could be "McBitch", the Asian one could be "Desperate", the nerdy one could be "Homeworky", and Cassidy could be "I'm the only one with morals." lol

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  5. I cannot WAIT to see this film. I'm so excited.

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  6. I was on the fence with this one - now I'm definitely seeing it! Ha ha.

    And I don't usually comment on comments, but Atomic Fox - Homeworky? Awesome.

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  7. You guys have all swayed me too, but not enough to actually pay $20 for me and the wife to see it and another $20 for a babysitter. I will be sure to pick it up once it drops to $2 on Half.com (as opposed to the $.75 I had planned on, be proud!)

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  8. Your review might have softened my stance a bit. Maybe I will watch it when it's eventually on cable with my wife, but when I saw that girl from The Hills in the trailer - I shut it down. Funny thing is that I thought it was the I Know What You Did Last Summer re-imaging when I saw the trailer before The Hangover until I saw the title.

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