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Monday, July 26, 2010

Sorority Row

Sometimes(well, okay, MOST of the time), slasher movies can really suck. And yet, every so often, you get one that's either a guilty pleasure, or is just viewed at the right time to enjoy it. Sorority Row(a remake of House on Sorority Row) is a combination of these last two: a slasher movie that I SHOULD hate, but actually found quite fun. Is it dopey? Ohhhhhhhhhhh yeah. But it's also pretty amusin and fun as well. Not too many stars are in it--Carrie Fisher("Obi Wan, you're our only hope!"), Rumer Willis(Bruce and Demi's daughter), and Audrina Partridge("The Hills") are about as famous as the cast gets.

The story is your very basic "killer-revenge" plot: A group of sorority sisters have staged a "death" of one of their own, Megan(Audrina Partridge), in order to prank a fraternity douchebag, Garrett, and humiliate him. Of course he freaks out, and before they can reveal the nature of the trick they played, he mutilates the girl by impaling her with a tire iron/lug wrench/whatever-the-hell-it-is. What do I look like, Mr. Goodwrench? Anywhoooo...Now she really IS dead, and he and the sisters of Theta Pi make a pact to dispose of the body and never reveal what happened that fateful night. Of course, this being a slasher flick, we all know how well THAT'S going to turn out, right? Well, these gals have never seen a slasher film in their lives, so they dump the body down a very deep mineshaft...

Cut to 8 months later: Graduation Day, in fact. The girls are no longer as close as they were before "that" night, but still together in their pact. There's just a teensy-weensy little problem--they all get a mysterious text message. From Megan's phone. Showing a hooded figure holding the murder weapon. Did she really die that night, or is she out there, stalking her friends killers for vengeance?

There are certainly enough suspects: we have Maggie, Megan's younger sister, who shows up after the graduation ceremony; there's Garrett, who was pretty bitter about how events transpired the night of the murder; Jessica, the queen-bitch leader of the pack who convinced them to cover-up the murder to begin with(and has most of the film's funniest lines); Mrs. Crenshaw, played by Carrie Fisher, the crabby housemother who not-so-secretly hates the sorority girls; and Andy, the son of a wealthy affluent family, who may just be desperate enough for a future in politics to kill anyone who would ruin his career.

The girls are all a little more generic: we have the hot Asian chick, Claire; the hot drunken slut, Chugs; the hot bookish nerd, Ellie...and a few more here and there. And the kills seem to be there mostly to pad the film's running time, as many of the victims are introduced then killed almost immediately after. For example, we have a school shrink who screws his pretty patients in his spare time. He's handcuffed to the bed when the killer arrives, and gets loose just in time to be slaughtered. Ditto with the sorority sister, Chugs, who finds him bed-bound. She is promptly(and gruesomely) slaughtered with a broken bottle imbedded in her throat. Within the next 10 minutes, another victim is a girl in a shower who overhears characters discussing the cover-up. Now, I'm not a guy who's gonna complain about a shower scene, but why not make the character someone who left an impression on me as a viewer? I mean, sure, she had to be eliminated because of what she overheard, but there were other characters already in the movie who could've served the same purpose!

Oh, who cares? It's rated R, so it's not some lame-duck thriller, like the recent remakes of Prom Night or When a Stranger Calls. Trust me, that's a plus! The girls realize there is a killer among them, and panic. They then decide to attend their final kegger anyway, because apparently, beer and sex are the perfect cure for brutal impalements. Never read that in any medical journals, but it sounds good. Anyway, Claire's ex, Mickey, is next, getting his leg slashed right down to the bone, before the killer slices open his throat. Nice.

So by now, the girls are getting nervous.They get a text, telling them to meet where the body was dumped. While there, they meet up with Garret, who slashed his own wrists. They think he might be the killer, until they find a text message to him, also from Megan. Frustrated by the lack of answers, Cassidy is elected to go down into the pit to see if Megan's corpse is still there or not.

Using her cell phone as a flashlight(when did cell phones become flashlights? This is like the 3rd film in the last month or so I've seen that in), Cass finds "Theta Pi Must Die" written in blood. Apparently deciding to forget looking for Megan's body, the girls go back to a suddenly-deserted Theta House. They learn from a drunk chick that the party was moved to a different house, and now they are alone.

Being smart girls who know a killer wants them dead, they all split up. At this point can I volunteer to kill these dumbasses? Claire decides to go turn off the hot tub, or something, and ignore the danger of wading through a wet, bubbly maze to find an electrical outlet. Sheesh, do they still give out the Darwin Awards? Anyway, she doesn't die from electrocution, so that's a plus...while the other 3 girls are in the house, she's getting chased through foam by the killer. She gets her ankle caught in some power cords or garden hose or something, and gets dragged away by the killer, as the others watch. Cassidy wades out into the sea of bubbles and finds her with a flare going off in her mouth.

Back in the sorority house, Jessica finds Megan's sister in her bed, talking about how Jess's boyfriend Kyle did things to her that the Kama Sutra hadn't invented yet. There's a great catfight, lotsa hairpullin' and wacky shenanigans ensue until the other two show up and put a stop to it. Damn.

They all realize someone else is there, and Jessica grabs a fire axe. She nearly gives Mrs. Crenshaw a heart attack, and gets a broken nose in return. YES!! The girls tell Crenshaw everything, and she orders them to hide in a bedroom while she goes after the killer. Oh, and Maggie finally hears the whole story and freaks out that her sister might be dead, or might be a living breathing killing machine. And you thought YOUR family was messed up!!

Crenshaw sees the killer, then decides she's at a carnival shooting gallery, and shoots at every plate in the house. Because, you know, aiming for the killer woulda made too much sense. She ends up impaled, with a big closeup of her once-young bosom(ah, Princess Leia in the golden bikini...WTF happened to you?) Hearing the shooting, Jess and Cass, I guess(seriously, I have to keep looking up the names of these characters) decide to try to escape from the opposite end of the house. Ellie, on the other hand, elects to stay in the bedroom.

Maggie, meanwhile confronts the killer herself, still hoping it might be her sister. The robed killer responds to her pleas by setting the house on fire. This leads to my favorite scene: Amidst all the chaos, Ellie declares, "I HAVE TO DO SOMETHING!!"...and quickly, decisively hides in a closet. YEAH!!!!!!!!!

So now we have the final battle...Jessica and Cassidy find out the killer is....Kyle? Seriously? I mean, no offense, movie, but...KYLE??? At one point in the final chase, he even suggests they "hug it out", lol. The 2 girls find Megan, and yes, she is dead. Very dead. Very, very dead. Deader than the Dead Parrot in Monty Python. Deader than Disco. At that point Kyle auditions for the lead in The Shining, but blows it when he forgets to say "Heeeeeere's Johnny!!"

This leads to a huge WTF moment: Kyle is confronting the girls, talking about his career and future, and in the middle of his speech, he gets an axe to the back of his head. Now, being the son of a politician, he should be brainless, rendering the weapon harmless, but in the movie, they act like he has a brain, so maybe there was some scifi in there, too, Anyway, the axe was wielded by Andy, Cassidy's boyfriend, who was gone for so long I assumed he had gotten himself trapped in another movie somewhere.

So he swoops in, saves the day, movie over. Right, movie? Nope. He's ALSO a psycho killer. He kills Jessica before she has a chance to bitch about stuff again, then begs Cass to let him get away with murder. Uh huh.

He forces her through the burning house, ostensibly to find and kill Ellie, the last Theta Pi. Cassidy gives him the slip, with the hope of finding Ellie before he does. She does, but Andy finds them both, and attacks them. Ellie gets away, and Cass manages to fight off and knock out Andy. Looking for Ellie, Cassidy instead finds Megan's sister Maggie. While trying to help her navigate through a burning room, Cassidy again confronts Andy. They scuffle, and Andy pins her down as he prepares to finish her off. Then, outta nowhere, Ellie comes back and shoots him in the chest.

Eh, not so bad, he could survive tha---awww, he just fell through the burning floorboards, where he was engulfed in flames. Ellie, Maggie and Cassidy work together to escape, and have one of those great, dramatic slo-mo walks away from the burning house, chests heaving and--wait, what? What's this "15 months later" shit? No, movie, you ended. Let it go. Dammit, all right, but hurry up:

So we get this final, pointless scene. Rush Week at the rebuilt house. Maggie ended up pledging the same sorority her sister died for, for no reason that makes any kind of sense. Oh, and after they show her as a pledge, we see Garret's hand(easily identifiable, due to his previous wrist-slashing), holding a gardening tool in as menacing a way as any schmuck can hold a gardening tool. Ay yi yi. How the heck did HE survive??? And was there any male character who WASN'T trying to kill these girls?

Still, not bad for what it was....we got about 9-10 deaths, some brief nudity, good effects and THREE psycho-killers. Heck, even some of the DVD outtakes were fun to watch. And the alternate ending was one I actually liked, so "yay, me", I guess. 4 killer trees outta 5.

And what wisdom did I glean from watching Sorority Row?

-My childhood fantasies didn't always age very well....
-1 killer isn't enough for today's audiences. Try 3.
-A "fun" movie doesn't necessarily have to be a "good" movie to be enjoyable.
-Hollywood can make R-rated slasher flicks and the world won't end. And a REMAKE too!!

See you next week!!