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It's the beginning of their senior year of college, and six Theta Pi sorority sisters are on a mission to get even with Megan's cheating boyfriend, Garrett. After all, ruthless leader Jessica hisses, "You cheat on one Theta, you cheat on every Theta."
And so they punk Garrett in a particularly vile way. It goes like this: Megan pretends to take a phony date-rape drug from Garrett (supplied by Jessica). When Megan begins to fake convulsions and vomiting, Garrett cries out for help to the sorority sisters in a nearby room (who are filming the proceedings for YouTube).
The other sisters—flirty Claire, conscientious Cassidy, timid Ellie and boozing Chugs—all pile into Jessica's SUV to whisk Garrett and his "indisposed" date out of town.
Way out of town ... to an abandoned mine.
When the sisters pronounce Megan "officially" dead—and Garrett is officially hysterical—they debate the merits of dismembering her versus tossing her in a pond, an idea one them nixes after noting that air trapped in the lungs can cause a corpse to float. So Garrett takes matters into his own hands—in a big way—before they can tell him the truth: He drives a tire iron into Megan's chest, ostensibly to let the air out.
It works. And the whole group has blood on their hands.
Cassidy wants to come clean with police. But Jessica convinces the group otherwise. After all, Megan loved them so much she wouldn't want their lives to be ruined by this tragic misunderstanding. When Cassidy threatens to reveal the truth anyway, the group blackmails her into submission, saying they'll blame the incident on her if she squeals.
So, adhering to the Theta Pi's motto of "trust, respect, honor, secrecy and solidarity"—with special emphasis on the latter two—they dump Megan's body into a mineshaft ... and return to the raging party back at the Theta Pi house.
It's just that simple.
Except that it isn't. Because few humans (and fewer coeds) can live with that kind of guilt and keep quiet about it forever. And, as the girls from Theta Pi discover, murderers never go unpunished on Sorority Row.
The sorority sisters try to call 911 after Megan gets skewered, but there's no cell phone reception. Garrett momentarily tries to take responsibility for what's happened. Ellie and Cassidy, the only two Theta Pi sisters with anything resembling a conscience, say that covering up Megan's death is wrong.
Chugs, briefly, looks at her reflection in a mirror and seems to ponder the gravity of her actions. Cassidy, Ellie and Claire are also haunted, in varying degrees, by their choices.
Ellie and Cassidy try to save another young woman from a fire.
It's somewhat suggested that the licentious world of the Theta Pi girls is utterly immoral.
Twice Jessica prays to God that she won't be killed, though Cassidy tells her not to give Him any ideas. Chugs wears what appears to be an Egyptian amulet.
Hmm, where to begin? Maybe with the attire, which consists mainly of negligees and teeny bikinis. Loads of skimpy camisoles, panties and short skirts. Several scenes include breast nudity, and a shower scene briefly shows full-frontal female nudity (in the shadowy background). Bare derrieres—both male and female—get camera time too.
Next up? The sorority world which is depicted as one of nonstop sexual debauchery. Claire takes off her bikini in a Jacuzzi (beneath the bubbles), after which it's implied she and her boyfriend have sex. Chugs tries to seduce a freshman, calling him "gay" when he refuses her aggressive advances. Couples are seen in bed, and one pair partially undresses each other.
Kissing gets hot and heavy—and messy: When Megan pretends to vomit, Garrett (briefly) keeps on kissing. And when Jessica attempts CPR on the "afflicted" girl, she pretends to make out with her once Garrett is out of the room—much to Chugs' delight. Jessica cruelly makes another girl remove her towel and walk back to her room naked for breaking a house rule. A doctor is seen handcuffed to a bed, and he asks Chugs to "finish" what a previous patient started with him.
Verbal references to sex include multiple references to oral and anal sex. Rape is made light of. As are lesbian contact and sexually transmitted diseases. Ellie laments that she'll die without ever having had sex. Jessica says she should seduce her fiancé's father, and a young man says he'd gladly have sex with Chugs' mother. Claire's boyfriend hits on virtually everyone. He looks up one girl's skirt and tries to convince two girls to flash him in exchange for access to a wild party. Theta Pi house mom Mrs. Crenshaw refers to the multitudes of guys who've sneaked into the house for sex. Chugs brags about having had sex with five guys in a single night.
Blood gushes spectacularly from Megan's wound as she dies. After that, just about every other character in the film dies in a similarly gory way as a murderous, black-hooded specter picks off sorority sisters and their friends with a tire iron that's been "enhanced" with various blades. The murderer usually dispatches victims by hurling the tool graphically into their chests or throats. His formula is straightforward, really: stalk, impale, repeat. Once, though, he jams a wine bottle into a girl's open mouth. She gags and dies as the bottle fills with blood.
We see a knife jammed into a man's leg, breaking the bone, which juts out of his skin. A young woman is killed when a flare is shot into to her throat. People scream, groan and gurgle as they breathe their last. Megan's decomposed corpse is seen hanging from a showerhead.
Two men wrestle violently with women. One guy gets dispatched by a character who shoves a wooden stake into his temple. Another begins to commit suicide—he cuts his wrists (offscreen). Jessica finishes him off by ramming him with her SUV ... twice. Mrs. Crenshaw shoots a shotgun repeatedly at a murderer before getting slowly impaled by his tire iron.
A man throws a Molotov cocktail at a young woman, setting the Theta Pi house on fire. Several people burst through windows. Mrs. Crenshaw bloodies Jessica's nose. Jessica slams another girl's head into the floor. She also wields an ax in later scenes (before being impaled through the mouth). Ellie shoots a man with a shotgun, and he falls through a burning wooden floor into flames below him.
Crude or Profane Language
About 30 f-words and at least 10 s-words. God's name is abused 25 or so times; Jesus' half-a-dozen. We hear about 50 other profanities, too, as well as several crude references to the male anatomy. Characters repeatedly call each other "slut" and "whore." One obscene gesture is seen.
Drug and Alcohol Content
An entire audience could probably be submerged by the sheer volume of liquor on display in this movie. Binge drinking is the main—indeed practically the only—activity of interest for Theta Pi and their perpetually partying friends. Shots. Champagne flutes. Beer bongs. Bottles and bottles and bottles of every kind of alcohol imaginable. Many people shown in the background of multiple parties are utterly intoxicated.
Elsewhere, a psychiatrist has alcohol at his office, and we learn that he regularly trades prescription medication for sex with his patients. Chugs, for example, says she'll have no problem scoring some Oxycontin in exchange for sexual favors.
The date-rape drug known colloquially as roofies is praised for providing sex and a good night's sleep. There's reference to selling weed on campus, and one person is shown smoking.
Other Negative Elements
During a sorority party, a freshman gets hazed by sisters who draw plastic surgery lines to indicate where she should be nipped and tucked. (Never mind that she's pencil thin already.) Bulimia is mentioned as a weight-loss strategy, and the idea seems to have fans because one guy says he doesn't want to kiss a girl who tastes like vomit. Garrett, for his part, throws up repeatedly when stressed.
Jessica makes a racist statement, and she perpetually slams other sisters for their shortcomings. Her boyfriend apparently commits some of the murders in an attempt to cover up her role in Megan's death.
Some things beg the question, Why?
Why do doctors "practice" medicine? If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him? And finally, why do filmmakers feel compelled to regurgitate horrible horror films like this one?
I began pondering these mysteries of life as the credits rolled for Sorority Row, which is a loose remake of 1983's The House on Sorority Row. Hours later, I'm still largely baffled, but I have hit upon a few possibilities:
1) Moviemakers want audiences to experience the rush of being frightened. But if that's the case, they're failing. This film has its tense moments, but they're so contrived and ridiculous that Sorority Row will likely inspire more eye rolling than blood-curdling screams.
2) Moviemakers want people to laugh. After all, they've written witty dialogue into this film. When Jessica and Cassidy happen upon Megan's decomposed corpse, Jessica quips, "Oh, she looks terrible." Ha ha. Film critic Des Partridge of the Australian paper Courier Mail writes, "This week's guilty pleasure has ... grisly deaths played for laughs." Except no one in the theater was laughing.
3) Maybe there's some great moral to Sorority Row. You know, a deep message about right and wrong and consequences that we're supposed to chew on. If so, I've missed it. This is no morality play. It's just another tired exercise in exploitative misogyny and sadism masquerading as entertainment.
4) Moviemakers think they'll make a lot of money. Ding ding ding ding ding! We have a winner. Because while Sorority Row probably won't lead the box office derby, it will likely make enough in DVD rentals (the unrated version!) to make Hollywood execs start planning their next excursion into repetitive repulsiveness.
OK, now that's solved. But the answer to the first conundrum raises a second: Why do people continue to flock to see repetitive repulsiveness?
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Briana Evigan as Cassidy; Leah Pipes as Jessica; Audrina Patridge as Megan; Caroline D'Amore as Maggie; Rumer Willis as Ellie; Margo Harshman as Chugs; Jamie Chung as Claire; Carrie Fisher as Mrs. Crenshaw; Matt O'Leary as Garrett
Stewart Hendler ( )
September 11, 2009
February 23, 2010