Sorority Row, Review By Case Wright


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Horror can make a political statement, it can make you reflect on your status in society, or it can just entertain.  The first two types are good, but it’s also nice to just have fun! “Sorority Row” written by Josh Stolberg & Peter Goldfinger and directed by Stewart Hendler is a 1990s throwback.  It had a real “I Know What You Did Last Summer” feel to it.  Honestly, the reviews are not fair to this film.  A lot of people want horror to be all things, but it’s supposed to be fun too.  So, just relax and have a good time.  Also, it doubled its money, which is what a movie is supposed to do- especially horror. It’s one of the few genres left that can produced by mere mortals.

What I liked mostly about the film was the writing.  It had a lot of great humor without it being campy. I’ve gotten to know Josh Stolberg on twitter the script has quite a bit of his personality: clever and quick-witted.  I especially enjoyed Jessica (Leah Pipes).  As a man who went a Greek dominated college, she was very realistic.  Her character and one-liners gave the story a mix of comic relief and reality.  I practiced Criminal Law for waaaaay too long and I can tell you that even honest people can turn to something wicked if they feel threatened.  People will invariably choose themselves over a possible life ending punishment.

The plot is similar to the original House on Sorority Row: a prank run a muck.  The girls belong to Theta Pi and they to love to party, prank, and get murdered.  Garrett a brother of the Sister “Chuggs” cheated on Megan another Theta Pi, which is not okay! So, the sisters have her fake an overdose so that Garrett believes he killed Megan.  The sisters: Jessica, Ellie, Cassidy, Claire, Megan, and Chugs are all in on the prank are a little too convincing because they make Garrett believe that they need to hide Megan’s body in a mine shaft or their lives will be ruined.  The sisters say they have to get rid of the air in Megan’s lungs or she’ll float back up. So, Garrett takes the initiative as a true go-getter and uses a tire iron to stab Megan to death.  Jessica decides very quickly that they need to hide Megan’s body for real.  When Cassidy refuses to participate, they wrap the corpse in Cassidy’s coat and throw it down the mine shaft.  Jessica really thinks fast on her feet.

I don’t know about you, but I think Jessica would be good marriage material. Hear me out: she’s determined, quick-thinking, has a college degree, and is ruthless to protect her goals.  Also, Cassidy tried to be all above it, but as Jessica said- “you could’ve called the police, but you didn’t!”  Agreed.  You don’t get to benefit from something wicked and then look down on everyone else.  Jessica made her choice and stuck to it.  She made a good point as to protecting everyone’s future and ran with it.  Cassidy kept Hamletting over her bad choices.  Do it or Don’t.  Jessica, don’t listen to the haters.

All seems fine a year later.  They’ve all moved on except for Garrett who has become a wreck over his humiliation and accidental murdering.   Then, they all receive a threatening group text on their very old timey looking phones- 2009 was just ten years ago and these phones look like museum pieces.  Sorority-Row-Megan-s-HERO-Cell-Phone-1.jpg

This technology allowed for some extra suspense because reception and tech wasn’t that great then; therefore, the characters can be cutoff from help.  I really think horror shouldn’t be set any time after 2009 because it’s just too easy to get help now.  This lack of tech added a nice layer of suspense.  The text sender stalks and murders them one by one.

The kills were pretty clever: an electrocution, death by chardonnay, tire iron throwing, and a good ol’ fashioned stabbing or three.  It also had a fun twist at the end like the 1990s horror films of my youth.   I recommend this film.  Read my past reviews- I don’t just recommend anything.  I’m an iconoclast and can tell you that this was a lot of fun. Happy Horrorthon!

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Horror Film Review: From Within (dir by Phedon Papamichael Jr.)


Strange things are happening in Grovetown, Maryland.

Sitting out on the dock, Sean (Shiloh Fernandez) reads from a book while his girlfriend, Natalie (Rumer Willis), waits.  After he finishes reading, he promptly shoots himself in the head.

Natalie staggers back to her father’s dress shop and says that someone is following her.  She then ducks into a backroom and stabs herself in the neck with a pair of scissors.

The next day, Natalie father (Jared Harris) hangs himself in the back of his shop.

And the deaths continue, one after another.  One girl crashes her car while screaming that someone is following her.  Another cuts her wrists on a broken window.  A recovering alcoholic drinks drain cleaner….

Normally, all of this death would be a cause for panic (or, at the very least, a sudden surge of people moving out of town) but the citizens of Grovetown are all confident in their ability to survive.  That’s because almost all of them are members of the same megachurch, led by the charismatic Pastor Joe (Steven Culp).  They believe that the deaths are the results of witch’s curse.  Perhaps all they have to do is kill the witch’s descendants….

Now, the witch’s son, Aidan (Thomas Dekker), is willing to admit that yes, it’s possible that his mother put a curse the town.  And it’s also possible that it was the suicide of his brother Sean that unlocked the curse and activated all of the deaths.  But Aidan still swears that it’s the townspeople themselves who are choosing to commit suicide.  If anything, the curse is just pushing them toward the inevitable….

Of course, complicating things is the fact that Aidan has kind of fallen in love with Lindsay (Elizabeth Rice) and Lindsay is dating Dylan (Kelly Blatz), the fanatical son of Pastor Joe.  Aidan and Lindsay think that they may have found a way to stop the curse but Dylan is more interested in just killing Aidan.  Working with Dylan is a white trash pyromaniac named Roy (Adam Goldberg) and you really haven’t lived until you’ve seen Adam Goldberg play a white trash pyromaniac.

Anyway, From Within is a film about which I have mixed feelings.  On the one hand, the film is full of creepy moments.  On the other hand, it keeps getting bogged down in its attempt to say something meaningful about religious fanaticism.  I mean, we know that Pastor Joe, Dylan, and Roy are all bad news as soon as they start talking about how religious they are because this is a movie and religious people are always evil hypocrites in movies.  At times, this movie comes across as if it thinks it’s the first movie to ever suggest that maybe not all religious people are as perfect as they claim.

Far more effective are the scenes involving the curse.  Whenever someone falls victim to the curse, they find themselves being chased by their own doppelgänger, which leads to some incredibly creepy moments.  (When the doppelgänger appeared in a mirror and compelled one woman to drink bleach, it totally freaked me out.)  These scenes reminded me a bit of It Follows, though it’s important to note that From Within was released in 2008, seven years before It Follows.

From Within is an uneven film, a bit frustrating in its pretensions but undeniably effective in its scares.