Sorority Row (2009)

I’m mostly glad I took a chance on Sorority Row and the bitches of Theta Pi and I’m mostly sorry that I didn’t step away before the last 8 minutes or so. Sorority Row is pretty standard as slasher flicks go, but way above average where REMAKES of slasher flicks (in this case, 1983’s House on Sorority Row) are concerned. (I’ve heard the same about My Bloody Valentine 3D from the same year which I’ll be more likely to see now that I’m primed for more early-80s nostalgi-horror.)

After kicking the party off with a practically sublime “prank-gone-wrong” opening that could teach I Know What You Did Last Summer a thing or two, a surprisingly tight, and mostly plausible, story begins to unspool.

For a movie that centers around the feminine dark side of the college Greek system, you have to give high-fives to a script featuring sorority brats with distinct personalities and motivations, particularly in a genre that rarely makes an effort to distinguish one curvy pile of knife-bait from another. (“Let’s just name them Bitches Numbers 1-6 and be done with it!”) SR actually gives its girls different degrees of bitchiness…aaaand a blubbery, lantern-jawed Rumer Willis who seems to be doing a variation on the same role she played in House Bunny (which–believe me or don’t–is funny).

"Bruce Willis' jaw," isn't exactly "Bette Davis' eyes," is it?

When a “tricked-out” tire-iron-wielding killer (in a black-hooded robe — lame!) starts to systematically ‘off anyone associated with the above-mentioned prank, what develops is a surprisingly clever whodunnit, complete with irony-enhanced zingers, darkly-comic kills, and a well-utilized Carrie Fisher (!) as the Theta-Pi house mother who gets the movie’s best line. (Shotgun-armed Princess Leia to Hooded Killer: “Please don’t think I’m afraid of you. I run a house with fifty crazy bitches!”)

"The emperial senate will not stand for this."

Rare is the slasher movie with what one might recognize as “production design,” but SR has some beautifully shot scenes and an interesting color palate for a low-rung genre movie. There are some downright aesthetically-pleasing scenes for your eyeballs to soak up in addition to the nicely executed…executions…that don’t skimp on blood or creativity.

SR offers a better mystery than most slasher flicks but it comes unraveled with a wholly dissatisfying reveal in the last reel. Up until then, however, the movie is a good, smartly-written, time with additional high marks for gore and gratuitous nudity.

What really sets SR apart from horror flicks slashed from the same bloody cloth is across-the-board solid performances (…that Audrina Partridge deserves an Oscar for her portrayal of a corpse) and characters that are as interesting as any sorority-girls-in-a-slasher-movie you’re likely to see this side of Black Christmas (1974).
**1/2 – two and a half stars out of four

~ by willnepper on May 23, 2011.

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