Sorority Row (2009)

Sorority Row is a shameless slasher flick remake with a difference – it has some reasonable dialogue and likeable characters. Plot wise it is a simple case of a prolific serial killer clocking up victims on one single night, and although it’s about as inspired as a dog in a kennel, it’s surprisingly fun.

A mismatched group of young sorority girls play a prank on Garrett, a wimpy git who’s cheated on one of the Theta Pi household – they pretend his girlfriend Megan is dead and convince him that the best course of action is to cut her up and drop her down a well (obviously). Naturally this prank goes horribly awry when Garrett actually kills her. After a thankfully brief and barely contested debate, they decide to stick to the original plan and drop Megan’s corpse into the shaft. Flash forward to graduation and the long-dead Megan is back to exact belated revenge on the luckless sorority house. Or is she? And does it matter? It’s just an excuse to scare the living crap out of young girls and de-clothe them. Tragically the original film, House on Sorority Row, has a much better plot, and Sorority Row’s convoluted idea just snowballs into one outlandish scene after another until you’re left feeling the writers are bumbling amnesiacs who’ve forgotten their ending and are just making it all up.

Sorority Row features a surprisingly likeable bunch of clichéd characters – intelligent girl, massive slut, total bitch, kind-hearted girl, pointless oriental girl whose character doesn’t seem to matter – and we witness their sisterhood bond being stretched to snapping point as their secret slowly dribbles out to various boyfriends… to their tragic detriment.

The film is luckily dialogue driven, featuring some sharp wit and extremely harsh words. Chugs and Jessica get some of the best lines as the bitch and slut respectively, pushing at the dark humour needed to stop this being a sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer. The film is also relatively brutal, featuring some fun deaths, and even has “house mother” Carrie Fisher stomping around with a shotgun, which is always great.

The problem with Sorority Row is that it’s very hard for the expected audience to relate to it – the world of Theta Pi is so mind-bogglingly unrealistic it’s just insane, featuring wild sex parties and frequent nudity. This other-worldly feel is consistent considering the extreme nature of some of the girls – Leah Pipe’s insane bitch Jessica is so brilliantly cruel-mouthed it’s amazing and Margo Harshman’s bonkers slut Chugs should’ve died of an STD or asphyxiation years ago – but this forces a barrier between the cast and the audience that makes it hard to empathize with anyone. We’re supposed to like Cassidy (Briana Evigan) and Ellie (Rumer Willis – Bruce Willis’ daughter) for actually having a semblance of a heart, yet it’s only when they start swinging axes and shooting things that you start rooting for them.

What makes a slasher film good also relies heavily on the killer. The featured bad guy of Sorority Row is sadly another black-robed unknown, who uses a bizarre criss-cross bladed tire-iron to dispatch his / her victims. The killer is not scary – the occasional random jump moment provided by a dropped chair or window bang actually manage to out-scare our idiot in a robe. The villain is just a means of faceless murdering, nothing more.

The finale sadly lets Sorority Row down too, being so utterly ludicrous that it makes what precedes it look like a work of pure genius. The makers clearly tried to create a thrilling denouement, but instead turned it into a maddening mess of fire, smoke, broken floorboards and a dumbing barrage of inane twists that even a half-brained sorority slag would laugh at.

Overall, Sorority Row is a reasonable effort that is saved by the dialogue and acting from our main protagonist sisters. It is over-the-top in most ways, completely stupid in others, but if you’re after an evening of female nudity, swift violence and witty banter then you could certainly do worse.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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