After the horror genre has enjoyed a wave of original ideas and stories over the past years everything finally seems to be getting back to normal; that is, rehashing the same ideas (torture porn, handheld camera, evil child), updating classics from the 70s and 80s (Friday the 13th, My Bloody Valentine, Nightmare on Elm Street) and taking very low financial risks in the process. If horror films, usually one of the more financially reliable genres despite their bad reputations, do not even take in enough money to cover their relatively small budgets, this is usually a warning. Sorority Row, directed by Stewart Hendler, is the most recent film to meet these criteria and yes, it disappoints.
Based on the 1983 film The House on Sorority Row the story is a very familiar one, reminiscent of films such as Prom Night and I Know What You Did Last Summer. The film tells the story of six incredibly annoying and bitchy sorority sisters who pull a prank which goes horribly wrong and ends in the death of one sister. Her remaining ‘friends’ cover up the accident and on their graduation day 8 months later they find themselves
hunted by a mystery murderer who shares their secret.
While horror fans can probably find some appreciation in the originality of the gruesome deaths, most viewers will wish the film's story, its characters and their dialogue were equally creative since this is where the film's main weaknesses lie.
The obnoxiousness of the main characters is proudly dwelt upon as they deliver one pointless line after another. This does not merely result in indifference towards their fates but is also very likely to leave the viewer with a splitting headache. The acting is decent and certainly good enough for the portrayal
of the characters. It's the clumsy story in combination with the ridiculous dialogue that stand out as the film's greatest shortcomings.
There are a few funny lines which demonstrate the potential Sorority Row would have had as a decent tongue-in-cheek teen slasher had it used its feistiness sporadically to complement the story rather than to smother the audience with it.
The feeling that style is favoured over substance prevails throughout the film as the audience find themselves overwhelmed with gratuitous nudity, extensive party scenarios and violent kills. This works as mindless entertainment but as a horror film, Sorority Row fails.
At no point does real tension ever build up and instead it relies on cheap and loud scares. Soon enough you will be longing for the end where, surprise, surprise, an incredibly lame revelation awaits.
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