Friday, September 11, 2009

Sorority Row

SORORITY ROW (Stewart Hendler, 2009)

In SORORITY ROW five sisters of Theta Pi pledge to keep quiet about the accidental, prank-related murder of one of their friends. Cassidy (Briana Evigan) is not in favor of covering up the death, but she doesn't feel she has a choice when the others threaten to pin the blame on her if she won't keep their terrible secret. Eight months later at graduation a killer with a lethally customized tire iron goes about avenging the dead girl the sorority sisters dumped in a mine shaft.

About halfway through, SORORITY ROW seems to abandon being a horror movie and gives itself over to comedy. Perhaps that is the best course of action as this remake of a 1983 slasher film is certainly more successful producing laughs than scares. Leah Pipes is very funny as the imperious and emotionally frigid leader of these morally repellent sorority girls. If she wants a future playing wicked queen bees, this performance shows she's cut out for it.

Rather than its partial tongue-in-cheek approach, SORORITY ROW would benefit from full commitment to dark humor, a la the 1988 Winona Ryder film HEATHERS. The movie is clearly sympathetic to the killer's blistering assessment of Greek life. Even its conflicted protagonist Cassidy is far from blameless in hushing up her friend's murder.

SORORITY ROW drops hints of a potentially withering commentary on group-think, but ultimately it's as conformist as its characters. The film caves into the demands for brain-dead horror cliches, gratuitous nudity, and run-of-the-mill suspense captured in needlessly shaky camera work. SORORITY ROW can laugh at the fact that it falls in line with genre conventions, but it doesn't excuse how easily it adopts them. After all, isn't going along with a plan despite knowing better the same thing its main character is guilty of?

Grade: C-

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