Saturday, May 08, 2010

Dying To Keep A Secret

If you thought 1983’s THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW needed updating with cell phones, roofies, fake boobs, and sillier plotting, here's the 2009 remake SORORITY ROW.

Writer/director Mark Rosman’s original film was marketed as a slasher movie, but was really a cleverly structured, brightly acted play on DIABOLIQUE. Here, instead of following Rosman’s roadmap, director Stewart Hendler (WHISPER) cribs from something much less classy than DIABOLIQUE—namely I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER—resulting in fewer thrills, but more cute girls in panties.

Look out for the bitches of Theta Pi. A not-all-that-funny prank played on Garrett (Matt O’Leary), the cheating boyfriend of sorority sister Megan (THE HILLS’ Audrina Partridge), results in one of the sisters getting killed with a tire iron. The girls sweep the crime under the table, hiding the corpse in a nearby mineshaft. A few months later at graduation, the sisters receive a threatening text message from someone who seems to know their secret. They begin dying off, one by one, victims of a scary hooded figure waving around a—wait for it—bloody tire iron. But it’s a totally awesome ninja tire iron with blades that you can throw with accuracy.

One major difference from the original film is that all of the characters are unlikable, even the ones who aren’t supposed to be. We’re supposed to identify with nice girl (or at least less mean girl) Cassidy (Briana Evigan, whose father starred in BJ AND THE BEAR) and smart girl (aka less pretty one) Ellie (Rumer Willis, daughter of Bruce and Demi Moore). The nastiest of the mean girls, Jessica (Leah Pipes), is allowed to survive too long, way after we’ve wished her an especially grisly demise. Carrie Fisher plays the housemother and gets to ham it up with a shotgun near the end.

Credited as adapted from Rosman’s original screenplay SEVEN SISTERS (THE HOUSE’s working title and likely a way of avoiding paying somebody), SORORITY ROW is neither directed nor acted very well, but Hendler throws in some topless nudity (though none by the stars) and a generous body count with gory deaths. Slasher fans may enjoy the elaborate bloody killings, and I suppose the script isn’t really any worse than a lot of horror films of the 1980s that are highly regarded by fans. The third act is predicated on a group of college girls not having a single cell phone on them (pushing the movie into fantasy territory), the killer’s motivation is weak, and the coda is lame.


Thomas T. Sueyres said...

Dammit, that almost makes me want to see that. Must have been the operative phrase "a generous body count with gory deaths".

Brandon L. Summers said...

My new standard is that if a horror film's trailer doesn't even look as scary as Ray Finkle's bedroom, then I'm just not going to bother.

Most horror remakes fall into this category. Example, all of the horror remakes of the last eight years.