With a slew of horror movies saturating the market lately the genre is getting overworked. Initially, Sorority Row follows almost all the '70s drive-in rules but then morphs into cheesy wisecrack one liners, a trait started in the late '80s when horror flicks took a turn for the worse with tongue-in-cheek horror clichés.
With an opening zoom into a house party replete with naughty dancers wearing butt-exposing jammies bouncing on a trampoline, you know you're in for a treat of some sort. This re-make of the House on Sorority Row more resembles I Know What You Did Last Summer even though it claims to be based on a screenplay called Seven Sisters.
The plot (if you don't own a TV set) is as follows - When a seemingly innocent prank goes horribly wrong, a group of Theta Pi sorority sisters inadvertently cause the murder of one of their own. Swearing to secrecy, they vow to keep it to themselves, never speak of it again, and get on with their conniving lives (like that ever works). They then each receive, via text, a picture of a hooded figure wielding a four-point tire iron and are hunted down one by one in their sorority house while celebrating their graduation.
The sorority sisters featured are Jessica (Leah Pipes), a super control freak mega-bitch, Chugs (Margo Harshman) nicknamed for her copious booze intake, Ellie (Rumer Willis) the bookish glasses-wearing nerd, Claire (Jamie Chung), the sexy Asian, Cassidy (Briana Evigan) the level-headed one, and Megan (The Hills' toothy, booby, likely illiterate Audrina Patridge) whose sole purpose is to merely be a slut and get killed. All possess major attitude and cleavage.
The first hour is promising, with inventive deaths and creepy suspense. Director Stewart Hendler, crafting his first feature like he was drive-in home-schooled, gives the film a cool look by incorporating grainy film stock, washed-out light and fuzzy-framed silhouettes. There's a string of bad ideas, but the suspense builds with an Italian horror movie pace. The weapon of choice here is a pimped-out tire iron, complete with huge blades and spear gun (I suppose one end is left to change a tire). The gory scenes come in quick thwacks followed by blood gurgling along with some "death by sound effects" off-camera kills. The nudity (yes, there is nudity) is relegated to a couple of shower scenes and a crack about having the best tits. Proving as annoying on screen as off, Carrie Fisher (Mrs. Crenshaw) is almost impossible to look at, barking out den mother commands and sporting (yeesh!) cleavage.
The whodunit nature of these flicks is of course irrelevant, as you know the killer's identity will not be who the characters think it is. There's so much sex and violence going on you don't have time to play Sherlock Holmes, but rather sit back for the next grisly demise or exposed breasts. And true to the genre, the killer turns out to be the last one you would even imagine or care about, the twist being a character so far removed from the story that it's inconsequential except to give license to mountains of lame dialogue near the end.
The original's tagline, "When the Nightmare ends . . . the Terror begins" applies to both Sororities here in that a dastardly deed will not go unpunished. Sorority has its inspired moments, but lacks an inspired script and falls prey to its own formulaic traps. Audiences want more than "we've-seen-it-all-before" with additional insult-laden dialogue and cleavage. Even in the remake world, SR is still old hat, or in this case, good blood after bad.
Sorority Row ★★✩✩✩
Starring Leah Pipes, Briana Evigan, Margo Harshman, Rumer Willis, Jamie Chung, Carrie Fisher. Director: Stewart Hendler. Rated R