Sorority Row

The sorority is a uniquely American tradition, a college house system intended to bond loyalty between friends and to help prepare future graduates for the real world out there, yet in horror movie terms it is something more akin to a ready-to-go platter of delectable, nubile delights waiting to be sliced, diced and slaughtered. Such is the slasher tradition, and it is one Sorority Row is only too willing to maintain.

A prank goes wrong for the college girls of Theta Pi resulting in the death of one of their own, but a cover up in the name of protecting themselves backfires when a mysterious figure, seemingly aware of their crime, begins offing them one by one in increasingly grizzly ways. Is it their dead-ed up friend back from beyond the grave, looking for revenge? Is it someone’s idea of a sick joke?

It’s slasher 101, for sure, but Sorority Row unashamedly plays up to the genre conventions - the girls of Theta Pi are as slutty, backstabbing, and as foul mouthed as can be (grog-guzzling-nympho Chugs trades sexual favours with her counsellor in return for prescription drugs). It’s loud, brash and crass, but so are the girls, and director Hendler ensures that the film is only too well aware of itself and never steers too far towards sincerity. There are moments of well-scripted humour which turn the screw on the lazier elements of its genre company (‘This is dumb,’ one of the girls mumbles to herself as she wanders into a damp, dark basement all on her own) and some choice moments of black comedy and filth, particular from the mouth of ruthless sorority queen bitch Jessica who is never lost for words. Throw in a wondrous cameo from Carrie Fisher as a shotgun-toting sorority house head, and there is promise here for a gleefully irreverent spin on the slasher cycle but instead Sorority Row treads the tradition a little too carefully and its story just can’t match the snobbish, rich-bitchiness of the dialogue. It’s entertaining for sure, but too close to the run of the mill college serial killer horrors it is, in part, mocking to be anything truly memorable.

Official Site
Sorority Row at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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