Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sorority Row

Sometimes you just want to see the bitches die.

In "Sorority Row" director Stewart Hendler makes no bones about following the slasher film formula. When he set out to make "Sorority Row," Hendler and writers Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger throw in every slasher film cliché that could find. That said, "Sorority Row" has an adequate suspense factor, but not enough to justify the one-hour forty minutes of screen time. Starring the daughters of celebrities, Briana Evigan (Greg Evigan's daughter from B.J. and the Bear) and Rumer Willis (Bruce and Demi's daughter), this action-suspense-slasher film is good for a few laughs, and a few jumps.

A group of sorority sisters in their last year of college pulls a prank that backfires on them. Theta Pi Sorority House has your standard characters, and Princes Leia for a housemother, OK an old Princes Leia. "Sorority Row" is an "Animal House," meets "I Saw What You Did Last Summer" formula movie, each character is memorable for their faults and their lack of civility. The head of the sorority is Jessica Pierson played by 22 year old Leah Pipes, who does an excellent job of that girl you used to know at high school, you know the one, the one that turns up her nose every time you walked by. The one who always had a comment that on the surface, seemed like a compliment to you; only to realize a moment letter that she had put you down into your righteous position, a station well below her and her friends. These girls are not likable in any way. That is how Hendler wants them. Jessica's gold-digging plan for her life is marrying the son of a federal senator, and become the power behind the throne -- power is Jessica’s vice. Acting-wise Leah Pipes pulls that off, her presence, is one of maturity and of getting her way. The strongest of the girls Jessie deserves what she gets. If Jessica is the ultra-bitch then Cassidy (Briana Evigan) although a bitch, is on a different level that Jessica, perhaps the protagonist of this story, although she loves a good time, she seems to understand between right and wrong. Initially Cassidy wants to do the right thing and get help, but after the girls turn against her, she goes along with her peers. As you get to meet and each of the girls we find that, none of them has any redeeming character traits, OK perhaps one or two do. If the next character has a real name, the girls never mentions it, every one calls her Chugs (Margo Harshman), why? Take a guess? Chugs has issues with alcohol, and prescription drugs. Clair (Jamie Chung), an Asian girl whose vice is sex. Last, but not least, is Ellie (Rumer Willis), the smartest of all the girls, yet the weakest of she chooses to follow Jessie’s plan. The big surprise comes at the end when Ellie pulls a Bruce Willis ending.

IStar Trek, the expendable crew members wear red, in "Sorority Row"; the expendable characters have bad fashion sense. A couple of other characters to mention, like Megan (Audrina Patridge). She is part of the Theta-Pi prank; she becomes the victim, thus severely limiting her screen time. With a pitch to the director for some good old supernatural plot tweaking, Patridge could have gotten herself a better part and perhaps a more gripping plot arc. Be it as it may, the girls, during a sorority house party lead by Jessica play a joke on Chugs's brother, Garrett (Matt O'Leary). Garret and Megan, making out on video, suddenly goes wrong. Megan given a date rape drug starts to convulse and choke, Garret freaks, and the girls barge in and take over. The girls send Garret to get the SUV so they can take Megan to the hospital, while the girls try to revive her. Megan is not dead, just joking. However, the joke isn't over. They want to put Garret in a psycho-ward, so they continue with the charade, and they drive out to the hospital, getting lost on the way. Megan "dies." If anyone who plays their part well is Matt O'Leary, if he is a method actor, I wonder what he did to put him that over the edge state. In your 20s, you are ready to take the world and invincible, careless, fearless, and ultimately stupid. With Megan playing dead, the girls head for an abandoned mine and pull Megan out of the car. With no cell coverage, which they planned on, the girls continue tormenting poor Garret. Jessica devises the plan of cutting up Megan and disposing the body. The girls knowing it is a joke, turn their back on Megan and search for rocks and tools to cut up a body. At this point the girls, except for Jessica are ready to fess up and let Garret off the hook, Jessica overrules them and they continue looking for decapitation devices. Garret, finding the tire-iron, plunges it into Megan’s chest, she opens her eyes, chest-squirting blood, and Megan begins to scream. A couple of girls try to stop the bleeding, but it is too late, the joke long gone by now. Do they take the body and get in cell phone range? -- No. Do they want to do the right thing with their friend? -- No. The girls suddenly slip into "The Lord of Flies" mentality, and Jessica decides to go ahead with the original plan and dump the body. Cassidy is the opposing voice; Clair does what ever Jessica does; and Ellie as her character demands is indecisive, and eventually goes along. Cassidy needs more convincing than the rest of the girls. The girls dump the body while Cassidy, is looking for cell coverage to call 911. Before Megan dies, she sets her phone to record the scene.

Eight months later and graduation is upon the girls. Chugs is on anti-depressants and her parents’ instutionalize her now psycho brother, Garret-- nice sister -- huh? Chugs sees a psychiatrist that trades pills for sex. Jessica tightens her grip on Kyle, the senator's son, and Clair surprises the audience by not being pregnant yet. The night of the murder haunts Ellie, and she is always on the edge. Cassidy dwells on her decision of that night, but she lives with the choice. Cassidy is starting to move on, dating the Danny (Adam Berry), the schools Valedictorian. At an alumni luncheon, the girls get a text saying essentially, "I know what you did," not the exact words, but close enough. Megan's sister Maggie (Caroline D'Amore) shows up at the luncheon, looking a lot like Mega, causing Ellie to panic, screams, and faints during the reception. The writers and the director put a story together designed to get your attention. This is not a low-budget slasher film, in the true sense of the word; however, "Sorority Row" is just one-step above low budget. Showing enough of sorority life to make one believe it was one college wild party, just enough t and to keep the film from getting a more restrictive rating. The music works hard to create the tension and suspense that a slasher film like “ The Graves” doesn't have. Unfortunately, the work put into the music building suspense is lost on the delivery of the actual kill. The goal is to watch, as these truly horrible characters die horrible deaths via a pretty tricked out tire-iron. During this almost two-hour stab fest, "Sorority Row" reaches too far to keep the audience attention. Special honors to Carrie Fisher ("Star Wars," "Fanboys") for coming out and getting out some of her aggressions with a pump shotgun, almost made me think of her wielding a blaster in the gold bikini -- Not. The kill scenes are adequate -- no real torture and they did the blood in a politically correct way -- which for a slasher film is a bad thing. Okay, I get it, you don't want to puke in your popcorn, but this was pretty bland. Comparing this film against other horror films, I would give "Sorority Row" slightly higher marks than most however; this film is not a classic in any sense of the word. Rent the movie, watch about one and a half hours with your significant other, eat a bag of popcorn sit in front of the DVD, and have an enjoyable time.

Movie Data

Genre:  Horror, Thriller
Year:  2009
Staring: Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis
Director: Stewart Hendler
Producer(s) Darrin Holender & Mike Karz
Writer(s): Pete Goldfinger & Josh Stolberg
Rating: R

Running Time: 101 minutes
Release Date: 9/11/2011

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