Sorority Row (2009)
Reviewed by Nomad
Starring Briana Evigan, Shedrick Garrett, Margo Harshman, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Leah Pipes, Audrina Patridge
Directed Stewart Hendler
Let’s agree on two things going into this: 1. Your expectations were extremely low from the get-go with such spectacular catch phrases as “Theta Pi Must Die.” 2. All alusions to a similar movie, creating a hybrid called “I Know What You Did Last Sorority Kegger”, must be out of your system as quickly as possible. Honestly, we made all these jokes years ago with that film series and all of its copycats. We expect more from you. With that out of the way, we journey on into the inevitability of a sad, sad weekend of movie openings. Brace yourself.
Practically the entire first half of this movie has been shown on the Net through TV spots and in trailers so I’m not going to be too concerned with spoilers in this summary. The ladies of Theta Pi are in their senior year of college, presumably majoring in alcohol consumption, boy humping, and bitchiness. At a particularly raucous party featuring an ocean of hard bodies in panties, our focus femmes decide to play a deliciously evil trick on a philandering frat boy. The lesson? Never cross a Theta. Before you can say “roofie coolata”, the joke takes a turn for the bloody, and five friends make a pact to cover up the whole affair. Flash forward some months and it's graduation time. The crew have kept their uneasy bargain, despite protests from Cassidy (Evigan) that they come clean, but someone has begun taunting the sisters with evidence of their crime. Soon threats transition to a body count as the red stuff flies and the girls fear their dead friend has returned from the grave for vengeance!!
This has to be the most repeated theme in horror history at this point. An innocent dies at the hands of a group of irresponsible individuals, and months to years later the perpetrators start dropping like Brundleflies. Is it the innocent returned as an avenging demon? Is it a family member looking to even the score? Nine times out of ten, the best you can hope for is a lame twist at the end when the killer is revealed to be someone the director has used considerable energy to divert your attention from. Sorority Row is no different, riddled with off-camera kills and slick cut-aways ensuring zero cringe-worthy moments. The young'uns and fairly squeamish in your audience may succumb to the two decent jump scares you’ll find within, but expect nothing more. This film’s saving grace is superior cinematography. The Row’s creators deliver an almost loving eye to death scenes, turning an expanding pool of blood and the running red across skin into works of art. The act of the kill itself is so bland, this movie may as well have been PG-13. Only breasts make this an R-rated horror film, and there weren’t enough packed in to make up for the boredom of this droning snooze-fest. In fact, they owe me six sets for sitting through it.
The problems with Sorority Row exist on multiple levels. The killer is represented by a figure in a cloak that just sort of appears. This is not a menacing figure ... just a dude in a cloak. To make matters worse, dude in a cloak brandishes what is arguably one of the most convoluted, overly engineered weapons ever used on screen. It’s so bad, consider it an invention from the Janitor on "Scrubs", ranking up there with “Drill Fork” and “Knife Wrench”.
Past the horror angle, we have a healthy dose of melodrama as characters debate their actions, cry, console, scream, rinse, repeat. Actually, screaming is Rumer Willis’ primary job. I’d swear she is the ONLY character allowed to do so in this film. Odd. At any rate, these touchy-feely moments pad those times where a character isn’t bumbling into a kill scenario. It’s as if the script was only five pages long and they brought in some teen drama specialists to fill in the gaps with tender themes of sisterly love. Blah.
Adding insult to injury, these blubbery excretions are executed by an ensemble cast of actors who are clearly phoning it in. I honestly felt bad for NO ONE in this movie and am confident no character gave a damn about anyone else in peril. They played to each other like two strangers on a train, sometimes forced to lock eyes only out of necessity. I resigned myself to a butt-numbing experience, watching the ladies be picked off in the lamest ways possible (save one shining moment that is too little, too late). The best performance award goes to Leah Pipes (not a porn star) who delivers bitchy like a diva belts out opera. A close second goes to Carrie Fisher as Mrs. Crenshaw, the house mother, who wins this (essentially) by being a pissy Carrie Fisher with a shot gun. It’s a win-win! The rest of the cast could have been swapped out with anyone young-ish and willing to learn their lines. It’s hard to say if this is due to performance execution or direction since if I’d read this script, I may have phoned it in myself. Paycheck!
We’ve got zero scares, zero suspense, no likable characters save a raving Princess Leia, off-camera kills, and a formulaic plot we’ve seen before wrapped up with a twist you won’t care about one iota.
Sorority Row is a case study of a wasted opportunity in R-rated horror, where instead of spending those moments on unflinching terror, we get a handful of boob shots confined almost exclusively to ONE SCENE, if I’m not mistaken. No amount of sub-standard boobery will keep your eyes from sliding closed at this big yawn of a film.
2 out of 5
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