The horror genre depends on female characters of all types more than most other types of films. In your average supernatural killer type horror the women that feature usually fall into two main categories, screaming victims and screaming heroines. What is perhaps disturbing is that so many films use these two character types so frequently thus perpetuating the idea that it’s unusual for strong women to win out in the end.
Sorority Row (2009) is set in the frankly baffling world of Sororities, the girly version of the equally weird Fraternity system that operates in colleges in America. One of these Sororities, Theta Pi, is home to the usual bunch of attractive Tommy Hilfiger/Abercrombie & Fitch type women who one particular night are throwing a party and and the same time playing a prank on one of their sorority sisters boyfriends. They plan to have their friend fake her death as the apparent result of the drugs that the boyfriend has given her – drugs the girls have swapped for harmless fakes. The prank goes well and the girls manage to convince the poor sucker, who happens to be the brother of one of the girls, that he’s bumped off his missus.
The joke steps up a notch when, rather then going to the authorities, they manage to convince him to cover up the whole thing and hide the (not dead) body in a lake. Deciding that bodies need to be weighed down due to the air in the lungs, the girls make a show of looking for rocks and such to cut up the (not dead) body and weigh it down. The poor eejit who’s the butt of the joke, who’s not exactly the brains of the outfit and somewhat hysterical at this point, gets a tyre iron and, in a feat of some strength, drives it through the chest of the (not dead yet) girl in order to get the air out of the lungs. Now faced with actually having committed a murder, the girls talk themselves into dumping the (dead now) body and covering up the whole thing.
Nearly a year later, the girls are getting on with things as best as they can. Some are handling their nasty little secret quite well while others are struggling with it. As the end of the college year, and the girls graduation, approaches they get down to the serious business of throwing another massive party and then getting on with their lives. On the last day of term though, things take a turn when someone who seems to know an awful lot about what the girls did turns up looking for deadly revenge…
Yes, we’ve seen this stuff before, certainly Sorority Row won’t win any awards for originality but it is, for the most part, an entertaining little film that doesn’t disappoint in the same way that other similar movies have done in the past. That’s not to say that there aren’t some big problems with the film.
The premise of the story is so completely fucking stupid that it’s just about believable, but that doesn’t stop it being so completely fucking stupid. The women were playing a prank on a bloke by trying to convince him that he’d killed his girlfriend. And it works! The thought of checking for a heartbeat never crossed his fucking mind, or ringing for an ambulance. Once the gang get to the location where they were to dump the body they all (bar one girl who seems to have a bit of a brain and some modicum of a conscience though not much) go along with the plan without much thought. The fact that one of them isn’t keen on the whole plan gives the game away from the very start (if you’re thinking that maybe she’s the hero of the piece and the fact that she doesn’t play along is what saves her, then you’re not wrong).
The early part of the film, up to when they dump the (dead now) body goes quite quickly, as if the director Stewart Hendler really wanted to get that bit over as it’s only an excuse for the main bit of the story to happen, that is the bit where the young women and a dude or two get murdered. Once in to the main action, things do pick up a bit, mainly because the pace of the film slows down just a little.
The action definitely improves once the killings start but there’s an odd problem with Sorority Row. The murders do manage to grab your attention but they can’t really hold it. I imagine that the audience are meant to spend their time when watching the film guessing who the killer is, but as most of the characters in the film are vapid sorority girls I certainly didn’t give a shit. The big mystery I struggled with during Sorority Row was why weren’t there more people trying to kill these bitches?
There is another puzzler in this film, and that’s why was Carrie Fisher in it? Don’t get me wrong, she was probably the best thing in it, once she produced the shotgun that is. All told, Sorority Row is a deeply unoriginal film, with poor character development, directed with little regard to telling a complete story. That said, I found it entertaining; I liked the film. It had boobs in it.
Two Thumbs Up for Sorority Row.