Sorority Row (Stewart Hendler, 2009)


What you probably already know: Sorority Row is not a good film. What you might not know: It’s not nearly as bad as it looks. Maybe I’ve gone soft in my old age, but about an hour into this film, I was kinda getting into it. It’s just clever and creative enough to hold my attention, though that isn’t to say is in any way first class horror.

The premise is ridiculous and the lead up to the mysterious killer part is abysmal. The first half hour or so, which is essentially the premise set up by the trailer, has little to no redeeming features. It’s badly scripted, badly shot and badly acted. Though I should be thankful it jumps right into the plot, I wish they could have found a different way to get around to the fun parts… but whatever, I walked into this film expecting crap of the highest order.

Fast forward 8 months later, the sorority girls have managed to keep their murder a secret but are still torn up inside (well, most of them), and it only gets worse when they all get weird texts with pictures of the murder weapon.

The film from this point on is something of a puritanical revenge fantasy, and it’s really no surprise that the first of the girls to go is the sluttiest one, “Chugs”. Her compulsive need to fuck is actually kinda sad, it’s certainly painted as something of an addiction that is exploited by everyone (including herself). Her death is surprisingly creative (I like to call it, death by deep throat), and somewhat really cements the fact that this is not revenge motivated solely by the need to avenge the untimely murder of one of the sisters, but also motivated by some moral imperative.

Most of the other deaths follow a similar order, man or woman, if you’re a slut… you’re gonna get it. Like the deep throat death, the female murders are especially sexual in execution; the killer mirroring their oral fixations as a means of truly humiliating them. Though, of course, being dead… I don’t think they quite appreciate the irony.

The film, as well as the killer, seems to see the girl’s sexual exploits far worse than the fact that they murdered a classmate in cold blood, as if violent crimes are forgivable but sexual indiscretions are not. It’s a muddled and corrupt world view, and though the film thrives on free sexuality as a means of titillation, it’s the knowledge that we take even more joy in re-enforcing our own disadvantages and punishing those we hate most that motivates the film’s slant. In effect, this film is a wet dream for the sexually frustrated. On one hand, it supplies the sex, the tits and the depravity, but it also punishes those that take it for granted or abuse it as the expense of themselves and others. Like most mainstream entertainment, it is a morally bankrupt fantasy that the audience can buy into, with the full knowledge that it is nothing more than a fantasy… or one would hope. There is something disturbing and problematic about this, and it becomes a chicken and egg debate as to how much film copies life, or life copies film (I’m not of course, talking about the murder, but the portrait of young adults and college life). Part of me feels bad for enjoying watching a bunch of sluts and bitches get what’s coming to them, but… another part of me likes the thrill. Ugh.

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