You always come to these sorts of films filled with slight trepidation. On one hand the intellectual screams at you that you must not enjoy this kind of horror. Only dullards subscribe to such campy schlock where there is more female flesh on view than blood and the plot is derivative from a thousand other such outings in the past. On the flip side there is an amateur child within that recalls those outings as a horror novice with such unalloyed fondness you yearn to be dazzled by such mindless romps again.
I remember my sheer joy on my first screening of Scream many full-moons ago: my eyes glistened with happiness. There was a re-awakening in the offering – horror was now slightly reinvented and we had a shining future ahead of more films like it to follow. And follow they did: I know what You did last Summer, Urban Legend, Valentine, Final Destination and The Faculty. It kick-started mindless sequels and reinventions of past maniacs that strode across the celluloid sea. Did I garner enjoyment from these horror/thrillers even though there was now a trite formula and almost identical looking posters?
And that’s where Sorority Row fits in as well. The cast is young, American, and utterly beguiling with their beauty. The stage is Theta Pie – a Sorority House where Jessica, Claire, Ellie, and Megan are celebrating upcoming graduation. They have a motto and are sworn to trust, secrecy and solidarity. It opens up with a huge party: everyone drinking from the quintessential American Pie red cups that seems to be the only type of drinking cup in a thousand collage films. After discovering one of the girl’s brothers has cheated, they devise a revenge scheme in the form of a prank entailing that one of them pretends to be dead. Not everyone is in on the joke, however, and when the prank goes horribly wrong the audience is treated to some grisly moments and surreal tension There are quite a few similarities to I Know What You Did Last summer here.
In the aftermath of their friends death the remaining girls keep their motto by swearing to never speak of it. Of course, such a plan is doomed to fail and the outcome warrants a trapezoidal odyssey of carnage as someone has taken to enact their own revenge by picking them off one by one.
Apparently the girls in this film are reality television stars making the leap onto the big screen. Their previous forays into the camera are not apparent as we are treated to witty dialogue and even grow to like their individual characters over the course of the film. As a collective audience we know what is coming but visibly jump out of the seat on more than one occasion. The body count and dispatching– although not overly huge – is lent some pretty creative drive as we see our over-sexed alcohol guzzling young adults terminated in new and interesting ways. The guessing game of who’s responsible comes into play … and is handled deftly and with intelligence.
Will Sorority Row be a mind-numbing and altering experience worthy of repeat viewings? No. Will it become a cult-classic? Probably not. But I do recommend taking your favourite thrills partner and enjoy it for what it is … as a film that pretends to be nothing but good entertainment.