Director: Stewart Handler
Cast: Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Margo Harshman, Jamie Chung and Carrie Fisher
Plot: After covering up a murder, a group of sorority girls find themselves stalked by a killer, who knows the truth.
The first thing that struck me about Sorority Row is that it is essentially ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’ but with hot chicks.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The movie opens with a sorority party, where the main group of girls decide to play a prank on a boy who cheated on one of their own (world’s evillest prank ever FYI), but it goes horribly wrong and someone ends up with a tire iron through their chest. Just like ‘I Know What You Did Last Summer’, the teenagers left alive hatch a quick plan to cover up the murder and continue with their lives. The head sorority girl is in a successful relationship with the son of a Senator and the others don’t really want to leave college as murder suspects. The interesting thing here is the relationship with the characters. In ‘I Know What You Did’, the leads were very separate. They had their own personalities and I never really felt the characters bounce off each other. The girls here take some interesting choices, which makes for some better development. It is pretty gut-wrenching to see these girls that trust each other suddenly turn on each other, when it looks like prison time could be an option. In a movie full of bloody murders, this could be the most uncomfortable thing to watch here. It made me want to watch this story, without the horror gimmick (I have been told ‘Donkey Punch’ might be able to satisfy that need for me). Leah Pipes’ character turns into a particularly nasty girl (a shame, because she could be the weakest lead actor here).
The humour is what keeps this film going. The characters are all very blasé about the events of the movie, which makes for some good gags. When supporting characters starting getting killed off, the girls turn very self-scheming, shrugging off these bloody murders; they have bigger fish to fry. Some of the jokes are a little too… chauvinistic for my taste, which is weird as this is meant to be a girl-power movie. This is what happens when you get male writers trying to create sorority girl characters. There are a couple of jokes which make you a tad uncomfortable, where the girls talk about casual prostitution as a means to an end and ‘how roofie sex is quite cool, because you get a good night’s sleep as well’. I am sure the writers wanted to make the girls look sexually confident and independent, and sometimes it worked quite well, but the line was crossed at points. I know it seems like a weird comment, but I wish a female writer was on board, because I would have been a little more comfortable, if there wasn’t this bloke putting words in his female actresses’ mouth and trying to make them sexually independent. That very concept seems flawed. Also, the male characters need to be equally sexually active, but it kind of makes them come across as douchebags. A boyfriend of one of the lead girls jumps from girl to girl. Some jokes do work. For example, realising one of the actresses is Bruce Willis’ daughter, they give her a scene with a shotgun that is totally bad-ass. You kind of wish they invested money in borrowing the rights for ‘Yippie Ki-Yay, Motherfucker!’
However on the whole, at this point, I was quite enjoying this film. Most of the reviews I have read for this have been pretty negative, but I thought that Sorority Row was shaping up to be quite enjoyable. It was self-aware and funny, making me forgive the typical slasher movie flaws. I couldn’t see where the hate for this film was coming from. And then the second half of the movie kicked in. I have never totally flipped an opinion of a film so drastically midway through. It goes from an enjoyable thriller, to a frustratingly complicated mess. The scourge of this movie here is the abundance of sub-plots. The movie introduces several red herrings, but when it is revealed that they are not the killer, the writers need a reason to explain why they were being so hostile in the first place. Therefore, small disagreements are brought to the plot that absolutely no one cares about. When a killer is chasing you down, you do not care who slept with who or if Leah Pipes can stay with the Senator’s son! You end up wading through so much crap that you lose all faith in the movie. Also, that interesting character development I loved in the first fifteen minutes vanishes as soon as people start getting killed off, as if creating an interesting set of girls was just killing time, before people started getting stabbed. You want to see what happens to certain story arcs, but they are dropped spectacularly. What started as a decent film, collapsed in on itself horrifically.
Final Verdict: A mess. I guess I can’t give it one star, because I liked the start a lot, but it still isn’t worth a recommendation.