Sorority Row (Blu-ray / DVD)
Reviewed by The Foywonder
Starring Briana Evigan, Shedrick Garrett, Margo Harshman, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Leah Pipes, Audrina Patridge
Directed Stewart Hendler
Distributed by Summit Entertainment
Sorority Row is a mostly name-only remake of the 1982 slasher The House on Sorority Row. Don't know why they dropped "The House on" part of the title. I Know What You Did Last Semester would have been a more befitting title.
Theta Pi is the hottest sorority on campus, and how could they not be throwing sexy wild parties that look like a window into Brett Ratner's subconscious? A Theta Pi clique play a prank on a cheating boyfriend that goes horribly awry, resulting in the death of one of their sorority sisters. The girls dump the body down a well and vow never to speak of the incident again. Flash forward to graduation time eight months later (two of the Theta Pis still have on the exact same nail polish); the sister's disappearance remains an enduring mystery. The gals involved get picture messages on their phones of the murder weapon, a four-way tire iron, and cryptic messages that indicate the victim is still alive and she is coming back for revenge. The ladies think it might be a bad joke being played on them by the now mentally unbalanced boyfriend of the dead prank victim. The kid sister of the murder victim also arrives just in time for the big graduation party to act as weird as humanly possible to make you think she might responsible when they and their douchebag boyfriends start getting killed off one-by-one.
The Sorority Row slasher dresses in a long hooded black robe, either because it's a fraternity initiation thing or the killer is a Dementer that got lost on the way to Hogwarts and just decided to start tormenting a college campus populated by CW Network cast-offs. Kind of lame costuming, but made up for by one of the silliest instruments of death of any movie maniac in recent memory. The killer has fashioned a four-way tire iron pimped out with survival knives and spear heads. A marvel of Ron Popeil gone mad engineering, this weapon can also fold up and fit inside the killer's pocket for extra added convenience. And it's aerodynamic to boot -- the killer sometimes throws it like a giant ninja star. If you pretend the slasher is actually running around killing people with the weapon the hero used in Krull, Sorority Row suddenly becomes a thousand times funnier. That's what this killer's weapon is - a Swiss Army Glaive.
The first hour of Sorority Row plays out like a fright-less mediocre retreading of the already mediocre I Know What You Did Last Summer, only set on a college campus on which every guy is an obnoxious frat boy and nearly every female has the personality of a "My Super Sweet Sixteen" spoiled brat. Let's meet the ladies of Theta Pi.
Briana "Master of the Sweaty Belly Shirt" Evigan is the heroine (i.e., the least hateful and slutty of the Theta Pi sisters). Evigan's character only inherits the heroine role because the other girls blackmail her to keep her quiet. She's now dating the class valedictorian and hoping to start a happy new life with him, though still haunted by Megan's untimely demise and her guilty conscience.
Rumer Willis is the other sort of good Theta Pi. An emotional basket case ever since the "accident", whimpering uncontrollably or letting out ear-splitting screaming fits constitutes most of her performance. She will witness the killer in action, but when she tries to tell her friends what she saw, all she can do is stammer like Scooby and Shaggy after seeing a ghost.
The queen bee of the Theta Pi hive is Jessica (Leah Pipes), a social-climbing blonde dating the son of a prominent Senator with White House prospects. Think Blair Warner from "The Facts of Life" if she were a sociopathic bitch. Pipes breathes a character-you-love-to-hate quality into her role, unlike the other females you'll just hate or find yourself completely indifferent to.
Jamie Chung is the cleanest slasher movie victim of all time. She gets out of a bubble bath jacuzzi and immediately feels the need to go clean herself off with a hot shower. Her demise even comes amid a pile of soap suds. Sorry, fellas, no nudity. Only random extras deliver the fleeting moments of T&A.
Then there's the girl known as "Chugs". Mental anguish over the fatal prank has led her to become a drunken slut - even more so than before. Her death will combine her two favorite past times when the killer forces her to fatally deep throat a wine bottle.
I'd almost consider it sublime commentary on the part of the screenwriters that most of the slutty sorority victims die by having something shot, stabbed, or shoved into their mouth. I would, but all one has to do is watch how increasingly absurd Sorority Row gets to realize there was little going on here that could be considered clever. The by-the-numbers first hour slasher turns into a slasher flick so ridiculous it borders on parody. A well shot ridiculous slasher flick; I'll give it that much.
How ridiculous does it get? House mother Carrie Fisher returns to the sorority house packing a loaded shotgun. Why? She didn't even know there was a killer on the loose when she got there. She was just coming back to survey the sorority house after the unchaperoned graduation party ended - with a fully loaded shotgun. Who was she planning to shoot? Was she going to shoo everyone out of the party with a hail of gunfire? Not one single character even asks her what the shotgun is for.
Then there's the revelation of the killer. I won't spoil it other than to declare it absurd. Even more absurd that we're expected to believe a second character goes stark-raving psycho even before the true killer is revealed. The face-palming motivation behind the massacre is just the cherry on top of the two scoops of stupid hot fudge sundae that is the entire third act post-party climax.
If you have a Blu-ray player, you'll get to "treat" yourself to a picture-in-picture video commentary with director Hendler and most of his stars. It's distracting and noisy so you're better off without it. From here on the DVD and its high-def cousin share the same bits of supplemental material.
The most noteworthy DVD extra is the "Kill Switch", a gimmick that allows you to jump to every kill scene in the movie. You'll be amazed at how much faster you can get through the movie this way without having to put up with all that pointless filler in-between.
"Killer 101" has the director and two screenwriters giving remedial commentary on how they crafted the plot of Sorority Row. Apparently they really did mean for their movie to be a Heather-ish send-up of the sorority system in the guise of a slasher movie. One of the writers, when describing character motivation states, "When you're a teenager, you have so many emotions." Yeah, except the characters are all college seniors in their 20s.
The only thing of interest amongst the deleted scenes is an alternate ending that makes you realize why it ended up as a deleted scene, and the blooper reel is just your typical assortment of flubs that were funny on the set but not so much to the average viewer.
"Sorority Secrets: Stories from the Set" is a behind-the-scenes featurette primarily focusing on the actresses talking about how much they enjoy one another's company. That most of the kills involved women having something fatally shoved into their mouth was not lost on any of them. A certain sense of annoyance directed at the screenwriters regarding their oral fixation was evident. Leah Pipes jokingly suggested they should have moved on to anal. Probably saving that for the sequel.
2 out of 5
2 1/2 out of 5
Discuss Sorority Row in our forums!