Every Thursday, Calhoun Kersten digs deeper into the canon of horror cinema in The Bloody Truth.
The remake of Sorority Row is one of those movies that feels like a frustrating paint-by-numbers game. By the end of the movie, when you find out who did it, not only do you not care, but you’re also secretly hoping for every one of these annoying characters to die. This may sound particularly spiteful, but for those who have seen it, most know the feeling.
It’s important to start at the beginning. While this obviously wasn’t going to be as good as the original (or even feature the same plot, really), a little stupid fun never hurt anyone. I had a moment of hesitance about seeing it, but the whole slasher genre is pretty much ridiculous, so what was just one more? Also, admittedly, the casting of Carrie Fisher has a certain appeal. However, the inciting incident (a.k.a the killing of Audrina Patridge) could not come soon enough. She honestly has that stereotypical dumb girl voice where every sentence ends with an upward inflection so it sounds like she’s asking a question. Sadly, even after her death, there are plenty of other obnoxious characters to make audience members want to go homicidal. Nevertheless, acting has never been a priority of the slasher subgenre (I mean, Neve Campbell? C’mon), so that was nothing new.
What made these characters so obnoxious, though, is that none of them seem to be worth saving. The audience is introduced to their misdeeds and vices before they can see their potential for good. What results is roughly five obnoxious spoiled brats who honestly deserve to be punished for what they’ve done. Maybe not by the means that the killer uses, but in some way or another. None of them, except the obvious Final Girl (Briana Evigan), seemed to even feel bad about what they’ve done. Naturally, it’s hard for the audience to feel too bad for them when they get picked off one by one. It’s difficult to tell if that’s the result of the amateurish acting or the way that the characters are written.
The writing is certainly to blame in some parts, as the dialogue is just too absurd to even be a guilty pleasure. When one girl finds the decaying corpse of another girl, rather than screaming, she says “Oh my God, she looks terrible…” as if she was telling her that her lipstick was the wrong shade or she used too much blush. Sure, it’s an attempt at comedy to alleviate the suspense, but there are just two problems with that. First is obviously the issue of placement. There are some other comedic moments which are placed more appropriately, but even then, it’s still not very funny. And then, the mixture of tension and relief is a delicate balance in horror movies, but the most crucial element in that equation? Some actual tension or suspense.
In the end, it’s more difficult to say what does work for Sorority Row. The whole thing is a mess that seems a little too proud of itself. The death scenes (the main reason so many people watch horror movies) are less than inventive and not nearly bloody enough to make it entertaining. There are a few good ones, but honestly, the DVD comes with a special feature which takes you directly to all the kill scenes. If you’re in it for the gore, either watch that special feature or skip this cinematic abortion entirely.