Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sorority Row (2009)

Well, I wanted to get part 2 of my tirade against further Universal Monster movie remakes on line today, but I'm not sure that will happen. It's getting pretty long (into it's fourth page on my word processing program) and I need another read-through. Yea, nothing but quality here at The Shadow Over Portland, which is why I'm writing this quick review of 2009's Sorority Row.

It's a remake of The House on Sorority Row, though the movie credits Mark Rosman's script for Seven Sisters (another title for THOSR). The basic story involves 5 sorority girls who decide to help one of their sisters get back at her cheating boyfriend, only to have the prank backfire on them.

So, who are these five girls, you might ask. Well, I don't remember their names, but you can sum them up in five stereotypes. We have The Slut, The Brain (the sheepish one with glasses), The Minority (hey, one of the sisters even admits it in the opening moments of the film, don't blame me; and honestly, she doesn't have too much to do), The Bitch and The Survivor Girl (it doesn't take much guessing to figure out who she is).

Anyway, the five help the wronged girl fake her death by drug overdose, while having make up sex with the cheating boyfriend. These ladies really ham this up, driving the "body" out to an abandoned mine to dispose of the "remains," claiming to be protecting their sorority. Great so far, as the boyfriend is puking his guts out over the place as the girls talk about dismemberment and getting the trapped air out of the "body's" lungs.

However, boyfriend takes the joke a bit too seriously and punctures the "dead" girl's chest with a tire iron. Hey, no more air in the lungs to worry about. Never mind that she's now convulsing, gasping and really dying.

So, everyone but Survivor Girl decide to hide the body and pretend nothing happened. Survivor Girl is induced to play along through blackmail, as the now really dead girl was dropped down a mine shaft wrapped in her coat. Despite her pleas to get everyone to do the right thing, Survivor Girl capitulates, setting the rest of the plot in motion.

Eight months later, as the girls are getting ready to graduate, a cloaked slasher armed with a modified tire iron comes back for revenge. The killer is taking out anyone with knowledge of the cover up. Is the killer the dead girl, who maybe didn't die? Is it the boyfriend, whose gone a little crazy? Is it the dead girl's younger sister, who shows up out of the blue?

Do you really care? I sure didn't.

This film moves very slowly and methodically. It's as if the filmmakers were playing off the slasher film check list without any care about creating something interesting. A couple of the kills are inventive, but not much else. A shower scene, complete with absolutely gratuitous nudity, is added to the mix at about mid film, but it comes off as more boring than anything else. The killer's identity is no big surprise and, with all the girls are guilty, you don't really have anyone to root for. The film just feels dull and lifeless.

But, in the film's climax, one actor rises to the occasion and breaths some life into this clunker. Carrie Fisher, in the previously dull and thankless role of the house mother, appears out of nowhere with a pump action shotgun and a big can of whoopass. She is obviously John Rambo's mom as she chases the killer down, filling the house with lead and going down with a bang, not a whimper. I had wondered why she took this role, until her last stand in the kitchen. Who wouldn't want to play the Toughass House Mother from Hell. Damn, she was out of the movie too soon.

The final few minutes of this film just plain annoying. You have Survivor Girl plus two other strutting out of the burning house with heroic music playing. I guess you're suppose to cheer. Or maybe you're suppose to forget the fact that the house has been on fire for about 20 minutes and the fire department finally figured out where the college campus is located. Doesn't matter, as the sister solidarity/empowerment message is blazing across the screen in tight clothes and lingerage.

At least until the final scene. As the next group of sorority sisters start fall quarter (guess the fire, which caused beams to crack and floors to drop, didn't damage the house THAT much), the camera focuses on one of the gardeners. The one with a scar that looks like one Survivor Girl sustained, gripping a trowel in a most menacing fashion. Guess the message is standing up for your principles is fine, until you have to pay the consequences. Then it's time for a little payback.

Quite a shame, as this destroys everything the movie built up to. But, to tell the truth, it didn't bother me that much. The movie lost me long before the closing scene.

Recommended for die hard slasher fans only. Oh, and those who want to see Carrie Fisher kick a little ass.