It All Happens In The Dark

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Six people can keep a secret if five of them are dead.

Sorority Row (2009)

I was never planning to see this movie. There was no really good reason I was avoiding it. The previews I saw didn’t really whip me into a frenzy to seek it out, I have not seen the original – I was generally just disinterested. Good horror movies never have reality TV stars and tabloid fixtures who are the offspring of famous celebrities in them, do they? Well, obviously, I did watch it. I’m still not sure what happened that inspired this – oh, wait, I am. I think it has something to do with the dearth of any recent decent new horror offerings.

I feel like I’ve seen a movie with a similar story somewhere before, but I could be wrong. Kids play prank, prank goes horribly wrong, Audrina Patridge ends up dead, it is decided that it would be best if it is all just covered up and everyone pretends it never happened – even though there’s always that one extremely selfish person in the group who wants to ruin all of their lives and go to the police. Will these kids never learn! This time it is a bit different though, isn’t it? I mean they killed someone from The Hills. Seriously. Is there any jury out there that would convict them? They practically just did us all a public service.

The manslaughtering group are a bunch of Sorority Sisters and they are familiar characters: the decent one, Cassidy (Briana Evigan); the superbitch, Jessica (Leah Pipes); the one in glasses, Ellie (Rumer Willis); the Asian, Claire (Jamie Chung) and the alcoholic, “Chugs” (Margo Harshman). Oh, yes! One could not forget that we also have Carrie Fisher as a pistol packing house mother. I love Carrie Fisher cameos in slasher films. I want more.

So prank = untimely death and buried secrets, which of course you must know = exactly one year later a sentimental slasher feeling nostalgic pops up to carve up some coeds. And on Graduation Day, no less!

This film benefits enormously from a sense of humor and some creative killings (with gore garnish). Sorority Row reminds me of Urban Legend – it too, was very fun, and never fully embraced or appreciated by the horror community. It seems to be regarded as a guilty pleasure. Well, I’m not ashamed to say I like Urban Legend. And I’m also not afraid to say I think Sorority Row is amusing, entertaining trashy goodness.

Leah Pipes is the standout here and gets all the best lines. It appears at first that her character is going to be just a humorless blond Alpha Female. But as soon as the bodies start piling up, Pipes is able to showcase her comedic side and she is fabulous. One moment I absolutely adored and played back quite a few times was Cassidy and Jessica discovering the rotting corpse of Audrina’s Megan in a shower. “Oh, she looks terrible!” Jessica exclaims.

This one has all the standard tropes, in case you wondered. The girls knock the killer out repeatedly but fail to finish him off. A character wanders into a basement that is apparently so seldom used it doesn’t even have electricity and upon hearing a noise calls out, “Hello?” You don’t even have to bother to guess who will be killed or in what order (though Jessica’s death did catch me unaware, mostly because she was in mid-sentence). The killer is exactly who I was sure it would be. He’s just so nice and cute. He has to be a psycho.

So, I admit, this is not terrifically remarkable filmmaking or anything so unprecedented and unique that it should have caused upheaval in the world of horror. It is more of what we’ve seen oh so many times before – but damn it if it isn’t done with a little more gusto than usual. This one has spunk, I tell you. C+


5 responses to “Six people can keep a secret if five of them are dead.

  1. James December 3, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    I love the original House on Sorority Row – trashy slasher goodness, with its fair share of creepiness, suspense, unintentional hilarity and big Eighties hair! I liked your review of this one, Cody. I also love Carrie Fisher and sentimental slashers.
    And Urban Legend. 🙂

  2. christy December 2, 2010 at 9:45 pm

    I liked Urban Legend too! If I’m ever spooked at night and get into my car, I always think of that opening scene, check the backseat, and blast the radio. If I’m going out like that I may as well sing along!

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