Details: (MA15+), 101 mins, United States, English
Synopsis: College juniors CASSIDY (Briana Evigan), JESSICA (Leah Pipes), CLAIRE (Jamie Chung), ELLIE (Rumer Willis) and MEGAN (Audrina Patridge) are sorority sisters sworn to trust, secrecy and solidarity, no matter what. But their loyalty is tested when a prank at a raucous house party goes terribly wrong and Megan ends up brutally murdered. Rather than confess to the crime and risk destroying their bright futures, the girls agree to hide the bloody corpse and keep their secret forever.Fast forward one year to graduation. As they prepare to say goodbye to the house and each other, the girls plan one last alcohol-fueled bash on Sorority Row, confident their dark secret remains buried. But does it? As the party rages in the front yard, the bedrooms and the hot tub, the girls receive cell phone videos taken the night of Megan's murder from an anonymous sender who threatens to forward the videos to the police. Then, one by one, the sisters and their unsuspecting boyfriends are stalked by an unseen killer.Has Megan returned from the dead to exact her revenge? Or was their secret discovered by someone else someone now determined to make them pay? Trapped, the girls race to figure out which of them let their secret slip, who wants them dead, and how to fight back as the bodies pile up and their beloved sorority house explodes into flames. A heart-stopping climax reveals the killer's shocking identity in this suspenseful, hip and sexy remake of the 1983 classic horror thriller.
Stewart Hendler’s college-campus slasher refit Sorority Row makes for an occasionally-okay fright night feature, but unless it’s the first horror movie you’ve ever watched, it will all seem rather too obvious. With DVD release windows shrinking, this bitchy, bloody nod to 1980s slice-&-dice video nasties will work just as well as a beer-and-pizza –fuelled Saturday night rental, where the lads can ogle the nubile co-ed bods in private and utter “cooool” when the killer does his thing.
The film wastes no time giving the audience want they want – for fans of the genre, that means a sorority house ‘hazing party’, complete with beer-funnels and upstairs sex romps between first-year college students (played by barely-there-underwear models). Megan (reality TV starlet Audrina Partridge in her mercifully brief feature film debut) is having a bedroom moment with her boyfriend Garrett (Matt O’Leary) when she begins to convulse and froth at the mouth. However, it’s all a prank to teach the two-timer a lesson, and was devised by Megan’s sorority-sister posse: the delicately-monikered Chugs (Margo Harshman); bookish nerd Ellie (Rumer Willis); exotic tempress Claire (Jamie Chung); upwardly-mobile queen bitch Jessica (Leah Pipes); and Cassidy (Briana Evigan), the group’s moral figurehead and the only vaguely multi-dimensional human character in the cast.
Things take a turn for the worse when the prank goes horribly wrong (as in tyre-lever-through-Megan’s-still-beating-heart wrong) and the girls dispose of Megan’s lifeless body down a mine shaft, which is conveniently located only a short drive from their ivy-league institution. The close proximity enables the lingerie-clad quintet to get back to the party swiftly, and also means that the killer, whose identity is never really in doubt, can join them and begin his evening of stalking and murdering.
In remaking Mark Rosman’s warmly-remembered 1983 film The House on Sorority Row, Hendler has stuck very close to the tenets of slasher-movie lore (hilariously detailed by Jamie Kennedy in the classic Rules to Surviving a Horror Movie scene from Wes Craven’s Scream). And just as the cornball romance must end with the girl kissing her dream guy and the classic western wraps things up with the guy-in-black getting his just desserts, there is a warm fondness and retro-coolness about watching the sort of film that consumed one’s weekends for half a decade.
Other plusses include the surprisingly lush widescreen cinematography of Ken Seng, some refreshingly brutal, non-PC offings, and Carrie Fisher as the house-mother, in a supporting turn that redefines ‘scenery-chewing’.
That it should amount to so little defines the inherent problem confronted by the makers of a remake. Hendler and his game cast go all out to deliver the goods, though the underlying motivation is to make it all feel familiar. Like the all-partying, all-screaming sisters of Theta Pi, Sorority Row feels doomed from the first frame.
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