Sorority Row

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Remo D
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Sorority Row

Post by Remo D » Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:16 am

Okay, I'm still a week behind in my horror viewing, largely thanks to the deceptive ad campaign for WHITEOUT. SORORITY ROW is the one I SHOULD have seen LAST week, whereas JENNIFER'S BODY opened THIS week. But I decided to take a pass (that's PASS, with an "A") on JENNIFER'S BODY (despite it coming from the Academy Award winning screenwriter of JUNO, hee hee) and snag SORORITY ROW before it disappeared completely.

I was mildly curious about this movie because it seemed to be an earnest 80s retread (and the 80s was my most informative and revelatory decade when it came to truly learning about the genre on the big screen). It was a nominal remake of THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, but it seemed to be much more of an IKWYDLS ripoff this time around--and the "R" rating at least guaranteed something stronger than PROM NIGHT. And it WAS a horror film, unlike WHITEOUT.

Folks who caught SORORITY ROW ahead of me told me it was one of the year's very worst... and they made an excellent point. And yet I found it (somewhat) more watchable than Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN II--but only on the strength of one or two isolated sequences.

I imagine you saw enough from the ads. Sorority sisters set up a mean-spirited prank to get revenge on a cheating boyfriend (who just happens to be the brother of one of the Theta Pi girls). His girlfriend pretends to die, but he gets carried away when it comes to the "disposing of the body" stage and kills her for real. Everyone freaks out, but the Theta Pi girls agree to cover it up (by blackmailing the one holdout who wants to go straight to the cops). But their dirty little secret doesn't remain a secret, and people start getting popped off, one by one. Is the dead Megan (Audrina Patridge) back for revenge? Or is it some sort of sinister plot?

The story is par for the course--you simply can't ask for much more from a retro-80s slasher. The photography is appallingly bad (this isn't atmospheric darkness, this is just SLOP), but even that is outdone by the acting. Especially offensive is Leah Pipes as "Jessica," the princess of the group (looking to marry into a wealthy Senator's family)--I could never tell if her lackadaisical attitude was supposed to be satirical or not. Sorry, but not even a princess could be so unaffected by so much death and murder around her, whether or not she was personally implicated. "That's Mickey! I'd recognize his ugly-ass shoes anywhere!" "Is he dead?" "Uh, he's got a tire iron through him... looks like someone really pimped it out!" Most of the remaining characters are just as artificial or even worse; such as the whimpering wallflower and even a "sex for pills and booze" addict known exclusively as "Chugs." Oh, and we also get several repulsive male characters, just to try to thwart accusations of misogyny. Briana Evigan's guilt-wracked Cassidy and her boyfriend are the only seemingly 'okay' people at the center of all this sleaze--everyone else is there to drink, party and steal each other's boyfriends. And while it may be sad to see an aging Carrie Fisher in the role of the house mother, she's EASILY the best thing in the entire film.

Okay--the bits that worked? I've already given you one. Carrie Fisher. And there WERE two murder scenes that got a response out of me. One in the early going (featuring a bottle of booze) really stopped me in my tracks with its abrupt savagery (this is before you realize that women getting it through the mouth is going to be a continuing theme... see, it's supposed to represent silencing them so they won't talk about the secret... THAT's the only significance there, right?). And the one scene that focuses on a whimpering, terrified MAN also works (simply for the choreography and the innovative use of the murder device).

With HALLOWEEN II, you get likable characters played by worthy performers made to suffer horribly and unjustly. But I still can't defend that film when superior works such as the LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT remake (and even Zombie's first HALLOWEEN) already got the brutal point across more than efficiently. SORORITY ROW, on the other hand, gives you loathsome characters (you even have to agree with the killer when this point is spelled out near the end), awful performances, sloppy filmmaking and barely a hint of genuine 80s flair. It's hardly a choice worth making.
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Darth Tanner
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Post by Darth Tanner » Sun Sep 20, 2009 8:26 pm

I was pretty disappointed with this one and was wondering afterward if I would have had a better time with WHITEOUT. I never saw the original HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, so I had no reference point going to this aside from the ads that seemed to mirror IKWYDLS. After seeing SORORITY ROW, I'm still deciding if this was either a flimsy slasher remake or a bad horror comedy. Either way it was still a letdown. The enitre movie was predictable with unmemorable characters and a lousy script. I did find a few bits mildly amusing along with a few creative kills, but it wasn't enough to make the movie good enough for me.

As for Carrie Fisher.....I grew up watching her in the STAR WARS movies and thought it would be great to see her back on the big screen. I enjoyed her cameos in SCREAM 3 and JAY AND SILENT BOB STRIKE BACK, but there was really no need for her to be in this. Much like Tom Savini in CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD, she was most likely in this for a quick paycheck and as a name to sell the film since the producers probably figured that Bruce Willis' daughter wouldn't be enough of a selling point.

I really can't recommend this movie at all except as maybe a rental or cable viewing. Most of it is pretty forgettable and I'll probably never see it again. I'm also on the fence about JENNIFER'S BODY. It might be a good movie, but I'm sick of all the Megan Fox hype. Call me crazy, but I just don't find that woman sexy at all. Just my two cents.
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