Briana Evigan - Cassidy Tappan
Leah Pipes - Jessica Pierson
Rumer Willis - Ellie Grayson
Jamie Chung - Claire Freeman
Margo Harshman - Charlene 'Chugs' Cross
Audrina Patridge - Megan Blair
Julian Morris - Andy James
Carrie Fisher - Mrs. Crenshaw
Matt O'Leary - Garrett Cross
Genre - Horror/Slasher/Remake
Running Time - 101 Minutes
Score - 2.5 Howls Outta 4
In 1983, a slasher film called HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW was released. It's a slasher that not many people talk about or even bring up in most horror circles. Hell, I didn't even know about it until the slasher film documentary GOING TO PIECES: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE SLASHER FILM showed bits of the film in 2006. It's kind of sad that not many people haven't seen HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW. I believe it's very underrated and one of the better slashers out there.
Luckily, someone decided that a remake was in order and hence - we have SORORITY ROW 26 years later. Here's an instance where a remake actually does something positive for the original because now people know it finally exists and will be curious to see how it stacks up to the remake. Personally, HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW tops SORORITY ROW, no doubt about it. But SORORITY ROW, a film I wasn't all that eager to watch anyway, happens to be a silly, fun slasher that doesn't do anything new. Let's see why Theta Pie Must Die!
The sisters of the Theta Pi sorority (Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, and Margo Harshman) are beginning their senior year like any wholesome sorority would - with booze, drugs, and lots of sex. But since this sorority consists of vindictive overachievers, they decide to pull a prank on the very mentally and emotionally fragile Garrett (Matt O'Leary) to make him believe that his ex-girlfriend and fellow Theta Pi sister Megan (Audrina Patridge) died due to Garrett adding roofies to her drink. They travel near an empty part of town with a well to "dispose the body", knowing the prank is getting to Garrett. Yeah, it gets to the guy so damn much that he takes a tire iron and stabs Megan with it to dismember her body. Unfortunately, Megan was really alive and now the group has a real murder in their hands. After a large discussion and conflict, the girls and Garrett decide to dump Megan's body in the well and make a pact where none of the girls would ever bring up what happened that night ever again.
Eight months pass and it's graduation time. On the outside, the girls of Theta Pi seem to be on the top of the world. But most of them are still heavily effected by the prank. Unknowing to them, someone else knows about what happened that night and decides to send them text messages revealing images and video of the murder. This person also happens to be wrapped in a graduation cloak and killing people in vicious ways with a tire iron. Is Megan back from the dead to get her revenge? It is another sorority prank? Why am I expecting Jennifer Love Hewitt and her huge breasts to suddenly pop out and yell, "What are you waiting for, huh? WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!?"
Sue me, but I liked SORORITY ROW. Maybe it's because I've been in a downward spiral emotionally lately for reasons too long to explain here. But SORORITY ROW cheered me up and I had a fun time with this remake. It's hardly original and doesn't change the face of the slasher film, but it does decently with what it can work with.
SORORITY ROW, while similar in some aspects to HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW, is pretty much a remake in name only. SORORITY ROW feels more like a homage to I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER than the film it's based upon. After all, the main characters cause an accidental death that they all promise to cover up and never speak about. They all become distant and start dealing with the horrible experience by living in denial about it. Then some mysterious figure wearing a costume and using a unique weapon has information about the death and decides to take revenge on the characters one by one. I mean, it's pretty much the same exact formula but with different characters. Do I have anything against I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER? Absolutely not. I actually like that film for the most part. But SORORITY ROW pretty much copies it to a tee, which makes it more dated and predictable than it should be.
Even the revelation of the killer's identity is pretty generic and easy to figure out right away if you've seen these types of films on more than one occasion. I mean, the red herrings were really obvious and lazy. It was as if all the side characters had to appear threatening or knowledgable about Theta Pi, as if they could be the killer. I mean, really? It took away from the mystery of the film! And that revelation...yeah, I just thought it was really silly. While I do see the hints leading up to it now that I think back on the film and it's kind of cliche and predictable, I think the screenwriters could have done a better job in making it more plausible. I just thought this certain person really had no believable motive in doing what he/she did. Just seemed far-fetched, as if the screenwriters pulled a character's name out of a hat and made that choice the villain. Wasn't really satisfying, I thought. It's possible this sub-plot was a lot bigger on paper than what it was made out to be on film. But what we do see doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I thought the ending was pretty weak.
The characterization of the girls was pretty non-existent. They were pretty much all one-dimensional catty bitches with dialogue and action that gave me no choice but to laugh at what I was watching and hearing from them. Especially Leah Pipes as Jessica, who was Queen B.I.T.C.H. and made me hate her to the point where I kept hoping she'd die a horrible death - but in a good way. It was like watching an old episode of Melrose Place and watching Heather Locklear throw down on some poor soul with mean and laughable dialogue. So the lack of depth to these girls or any of the characters actually ELEVATED the film for me, turning SORORITY ROW from a mediocre slasher to a guilty pleasure. What can I say... I love me some bitchy chicks! Never wrong in my book.
The gore in SORORITY ROW was actually more than I had expected it to be. I mean, it was some really brutal and in-your-face stuff. And I found it interesting that most of the murders involved things going into the girls' mouths. It's as if the male screenwriters are trying to convey some sort of message. Hmmm...I wonder what this oral fixation is implying? I just can't seem to put my dick, I mean finger, on it...
And for an R-rated slasher flick, where was my T & A? Sure, that girl with the "perfect" breasts displayed them proudly [and my penis thanks you for that, sweetheart]. And we did get a couple of ass shots. But it was really tame and it seemed like that tire iron got more sexual action than any of these characters. But some T & A is better than none, so I'm okay with it. Just a bit disappointed, that's all.
The direction by Stewart Hendler was pretty decent. It had a lot of style and used the composition well. Hendler brings a lot of energy to the film with great pacing and slick camera movements and shots. I also thought the cinematography was great as well. It really is a nice looking film and Hendler doesn't cut away from the gore. Hendler knew exactly what kind of film he was making here and seems to be having fun doing it, making us have fun along with him.
The acting wasn't really Oscar-worthy but it is a lot of fun to watch. Briana Evigan was very good as Cassidy, giving us a "good girl" character to sympathize with. Plus she's very easy to look at, which is a plus. Leah Pipes was my favorite as the uber-bitchy Jessica. I hated her from beginning to end and wanted to screw her brains out at the same time. Hot bitchy women do that to me. Rumer Willis kind of annoyed me at times with her constant crying and screaming, but it was in her character to do that and Willis did it well. Unfortunately I didn't buy to complete character change at the end but it's not her fault. Jamie Chung is hot and cute and could scream on cue. Great job. Margo Harshman as Chugs was okay. I really had no idea what her deal was honestly. Maxx Hennard cracked me up as the player, Mickey. And Carrie Fisher, in her cameo, rocked it as the housemother. I would like to see an EVIL DEAD 4 with her and Bruce Campbell grabbing a pair of boomsticks and just blasting mofos. Good times.
THINGS I'VE LEARNED WHILE WISHING I HAD DATED A BITCHY SORORITY SISTER
- Sorority girls enjoy having pillow fights in their bras and panties. I enjoy fighting with girls' pillows myself. My motorboat technique is always fun.
- Making out with Audrina Patridge is like making out with a corpse. Well it matches her "acting" on The Hills, so I'm not surprised.
- Rumer Willis was traumatized by the girls' prank going fatally wrong. Her step-father Ashton is really going to the next level with his Punk'd ideas.
- Dr. Rosenberg got killed by a flying tire iron to the skull. Gee, what a headcase.
- Cassidy went inside the pit to see if Megan's body was still there. She's lucky she didn't enter Paris Hilton's pit. The itch never goes away, let me tell you!
- Sorority sisters like to fuck each other's boyfriends. And is there any wonder why syphillis is making a comeback? I'm sure Maury Povich approves of this.
THE FINAL HOWL
SORORITY ROW doesn't reinvent the wheel and would be totally average if it wasn't for the colorful characters that actually raise the entertainment value of this remake. But the mystery is weak and the reveal is even weaker. And if you didn't like the style of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, you won't like SORORITY ROW either. Still, it's a lot better than I was expecting it to be and the film is worth a rental when it's released on DVD. Definitely a beer and popcorn type of film to watch with friends.