Starring Barbara Crampton, Jennifer Holland, Michelle Borth, Kate Plec, David Storm Newton
Directed by David DeCoteau
The Sisterhood is the tale of a pretty, virginal, telekinetic, pre-med student coerced by her paranormal psychology professor to help infiltrate and defeat a sorority of glam goth bisexual Satanists. If only the actual movie was as entertaining as that sentence makes it sound.
The Sisterhood represents a new low even by David DeCoteau standards. DeCoteau’s female counterpart to his Brotherhood franchise reeks of being a hastily slapped together production, one in which little or no thought ever went into the story, and the filmmaking itself is so lazy I wouldn’t be surprised to know that DeCoteau shot it during the lunch breaks of whatever other film he was working on at the time. It feels like a movie they began filming before completing the script but the production schedule was so miniscule that they ended up having to just make the rest of it up right there on the spot.
We witness in the film’s opening five minutes a Scream-style killing of a BATS member by a hooded assailant in a glowy-eyed mask. Before the film is over, we’ll never get any real explanation as to who this girl was or why exactly she was killed. More importantly, there’s no logical explanation for hiding the identity of the killer during this scene since the villain’s identity is common knowledge the first moment she’s introduced less than ten minutes later. This typifies how little concern there was for the actual plot.
Pure as snow hotty Christine arrives at Hot Topic University, where every single student looks and dresses like a teen model ready for a night of club hopping with Lindsay Lohan. Heck, most of the male students attend class with their shirts wide open to show off their chiseled physiques. Control yourself already, Mr. DeCoteau.
Christine attends a parapsychology class just as all pre-med chemistry majors do. A slumming Barbara Crampton, who I am absolutely 100% convinced had to be doing this movie as a favor for someone, plays the parapsychology professor that uncovers Christine’s latent psychic powers through a highly improbable test requiring her to arrange a series of numbers on a computer screen using only her mind. Her ability to do so means that Christine can use her extraordinary psychic abilities to manipulate digitized data streams, a mental power I haven’t seen attempted in a motion picture since Scanner Cop. Oh, if only if this movie was Scanner Cop.
Christine also has other psychic abilities too. She can make her eyes glow for no reason and make candles light up for the heck of it. None of her psychic powers are ever really delved into nor are they ever used as part of the story, except for her inexplicable ability to shoot unexplained rays of poorly digitized computer animation at the movie’s villainess at just the right moment. That’s always a handy super power.
Evil is afoot on campus and Christine’s professor wants her to help fight it by going undercover in the BATS (Beta Alpha something or other, I forget, but the “B” should instead stand for “Bacardi” seeing as how they both share the same identical bat logo), the hottest sorority on campus, not to mention the most evil. The BATS are led by a sinfully hot demoness named Devin, who likes to corrupt innocent freshmen by leading them down a dark path that includes skipping class, partying too much, drinking alcohol, and engaging in carnal activities. One question; what exactly makes this sorority any different from any other sorority out there? Oh wait, I forgot. They’re evil!
The BATS also have a strict dress code. All members must dress entirely in slinky black ensembles with matching make-up and nail polish, and they have to wear dark sunglasses even when in class. It’s hilarious to hear someone comment on how gorgeous Christine looks after she gets her BATS makeover because she looks exactly the same except she’s wearing more make-up.
No sooner does the teacher convince her into trying to join the BATS, the sorority invites her to pledge. No sooner does she accept their invitation, she almost immediately falls under their spell. No sooner does she fall under their spell, she comes to realize how truly evil they are and talks of stopping them, at least until she begins falling under their spell again. Rinse and repeat until the climactic showdown at the initiation ceremony where Devin’s demise happens so fast and so easily I could only shake my head knowing I had wasted 80-minutes of my life watching this pointless dreck.
Along the way we get yet more poorly thought out scenes and subplots involving Christine’s jealous roommate who desperately wants to join the BATS, as well as Christine’s hunky dork (A male model type wearing black rimmed glasses so they can call him a geek) of a potential boyfriend who himself ends up falling under Devin’s spell.
About an hour in, the movie pulls some incredibly idiotic stuff out of thin air about whom the professor really is and what Devin had to do with the death of Christine’s parents. This revelation about her parents again drove home how much this movie smelled of having been written on the fly because the topic of her parents had never been brought up before. I could go on discussing other scenes where things are introduced without ever being explained or followed up on.
There is one thing that could have saved this movie – hot naked lesbian sex! DeCoteau couldn’t even get that part right. Hell, even Jim Wynorski can get that much right.
I think I speak for every heterosexual male when say that if you’re going to make an R-rated film loaded with hot girls engaging in sex, primarily of the lesbian variety, then, if nothing else, the numerous girl-on-girl make-out sessions should feature ample nudity and not just two or three women in their underwear half-heartedly kissing and rubbing one another in slow motion. I can’t help but wonder if the budget was so low they couldn’t even afford actresses willing to get naked on camera. Nonetheless, the sight of attractive women in their underwear is the only thing that makes the film the slightest bit watchable.
By the way, is it just me or does it seem as if virtually every horror movie that makes female empowerment its central theme ends up with girls making out with one another?
So in the end, you’re left with a horror movie devoid of horror and a softcore porn flick that offers nothing more than some attractive women in their bra and panties heavy petting for minutes at a time. Add to that the barely existent yet still massively convoluted plot, numerous scenes that don’t add up to anything, a director insisting on including flashbacks and flash forwards as visual aids during boring dialogue scenes, God awful fashion show techno music from beginning to end, and a cheat ending that only hammers home how little thought went into the creation of this film.
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American Psycho Meets Creep – Strawberry Flavored Plastic Review
Starring Aidan Bristow, Nicholas Urda, Andres Montejo
Directed by Colin Bemis
Recently I wrote up an article here on Dread Central which was basically an open letter to anyone who was listening called “I Miss Found Footage.” Well, it seems like someone WAS listening, as I was then sent the link to an all-new found footage film called Strawberry Flavored Plastic from first-time writer-director Colin Bemis.
The film follows the “still-at-large crimes of Noel, a repentant, classy and charming serial killer loose in the suburbs of New York.” Basically, you could think of the flick as American Psycho meets Mark Duplass and Partick Brice’s Creep. That, or you could think of it as “Man Bites Dog in color!” However you choose to label Colin Bemis’ psychological thriller, just make sure you check out the film once it hits in the future.
As I alluded to above, the film is basically a found footage version of American Psycho. But that said, the film sports a twist on the charming serial killer subgenre that I have yet to see play out in any of the above-mentioned classics. I’m not going to go into spoiler territory here, but I will say that the film introduces an element to the tale that spins it into much more of a character drama than a straight horror film. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Truth be told, the film’s turn from serial killer flick into a layered character study might have been its kiss of death, but this slight genre switch is rendered a minor issue as the film’s central narcissistic antagonist is played by Aidan Bristow. Bristow is an actor you may not have heard of before this review, but you will hear his name more and more over the years to come, I promise. The guy gives (no pun intended) a killer performance as the film’s resident serial killer Noel Rose, and time after time surprised me with how chilling, charming, or downright vulnerable he chose to play any given scene.
Bristow’s performance is, in the end, the major element the film has going for it. But that said, as a fan of found footage, I was smiling ear to ear at first-time director Colin Bemis’ understanding of what makes a found footage suspense sequence work.
In Strawberry Flavored Plastic director Colin Bemis is confident and content to allow full emotional scenes to play out with the camera directed at nothing more than a character’s knees. Why is this so important? Because it keeps the reality of the film going. Too many found footage directors would focus on the actors’ faces during such emotional scenes – no matter how contrived the camera angle was. In this film, however, Bemis favors the reality that says, “If you were really in this emotional state and holding a camera, you would let it drop to your side.” I agree, and it is small touches like that which make the film feel authentic and thus – once the shite hits the fan – all the scarier.
On the dull side of the kitchen knife, the film does feel a bit long even given it’s short running time, and there doesn’t seem too much in the way of visceral horror to be found within. Again, graphic blood and gore aren’t a must in a fright flick, but a tad more of the old ultra-violence would have gone a long way in selling our main psychopath’s insanity and unpredictability. But all the same, the film does feature a rather shocking sequence where our main baddie performs a brutal home invasion/murder that puts this film firmly in the realm of horror. In fact, the particular POV home invasion scene I’m talking about holds about as much horror as you’ll ever wish to witness.
In the end, Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic is a must-see for fans of found footage and serial killer studies such as American Pyscho, Creep, and Man Bites Dog. I recommend giving it a watch once it premieres. If only to be able to point to Aidan Bristow in the near future and tell all your friends that you watched (one of) his first movies.
Lead actor Aidan Bristow turns in a star-making performance in Colin Bemis’ Strawberry Flavored Plastic, a found footage film that plays out like Man Bites Dog in Color before introducing a new element to the charming-serial-killer subgenre and becoming more character study than a straight horror. Think American Psycho meets Creep.
Who Goes There Podcast: Ep 148 – Inside (2017 Remake)
We’ve all heard the old saying, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Well, I’m here to tell you that’s only partially true. It seems there is a third certainty that had been omitted from the original quote, “It is certain, if you enjoy a movie, at some point someone will remake that movie.” Now is the time when one of my favorite movies gets reimagined, “for an American audience”.
In the late 2000’s an explosion of “French extreme” horror films was released. Martyrs and or High Tension can often be found on any number of lists of the “most fucked up horror movies ever”. Unfortunately, the vastly superior Inside is often forgotten (as well as Frontier(s), but that’s a whole ‘nother rant). Now, ten years after it’s initial release, Inside has been Americanized. Don’t worry, we watched it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.
Mommy says you’re not dead. Is that true? It’s the Who Goes There Podcast episode 148!
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Totem Review – It’s Not Always A Bad Thing To Look Up From The Bottom Level, If You Like That View
Starring Kerris Dorsey, James Tupper, Ahna O’Reilly
Directed by Marcel Sarmiento
Following the untimely death of a family’s matriarchal figure, a young woman finds out that managing to hold all of the pieces in place becomes increasingly more difficult when otherworldly infiltrators make their presence felt. We’re going to have to work our way up this Totem, as
17 year old Kellie is the leading lady of the home following the passing of her mother Lexy, and with a needy father and tiny tot of a baby sister, she still keeps things in working order, regardless of the rather large hole that’s been left in the dynamic due to the death. Kellie’s dad after a while decides to ask his lady-friend to move in with the family, so that everyone can move onto a more peaceful existence…yeah, because those types of instances always seem to work seamlessly. As fate would have it, Kellie’s sense of pride is now taking a beating with the new woman in the mix, and her little sister’s new “visitor” is even more disturbed by this intruder – only question is, exactly who is this supernatural pal of sorts? Is it the spirit of their dead mother standing by to keep watch over the family, or is it something that’s found its way to this group, and has much more evil intentions at hand?
What works here is the context of something innately malicious that has found its way into the home – there are only a couple moments that come off as unsettling, but the notion of having to weave through more than half the film acting as a sullen-teen drama is rather painful. The presentation of the “broken family” is one that’s been done to death, and with better results overall, and that’s not to say that the movie is a complete loss, it just takes far too much weeding through at times stale performances and even more stagnant pacing to get to a moderately decent late-stage conclusion to the film. Under the direction of Marcel Sarmiento (Deadgirl), I’d truly hoped for something a bit more along the lines of a disturbing project such as that one, but the only thing disturbing was the time I’d invested in checking this one out. My best advice is to tune into the Lifetime channel if you want a sulky teen-melodrama with a tinge of horror, or you could simply jump into this one and work your way up…but it’s a LONG way to the top.
Sulky, moody, and ridden with teen-angst buried in the middle of a supernatural mystery – SOUNDS like a decent premise, doesn’t it?
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