Boobies, blood and babes pretty much sums up Summit Entertainment’s sexy slasher Sorority Row, a remake of 1983’s The House on Sorority Row and an entertaining romp complete with bitchy one-liners and orally-fixated kills. Just don’t expect anything you haven’t seen before.
As far as pop-horror fare starring hot chicks goes, Row doesn’t bring us anything new. To get back at her cheating boyfriend, Megan (Audrina Patridge) and her Theta Pi sorority sisters fake her roofie-induced death only to have their revenge prank go terribly awry when said boyfriend drives a tire iron through her still-very-much-alive-in-lingerie-body. The girls wrestle with coming clean to the cops - a decision initially heralded by the movie’s presumed moral compass Cassidy (Briana Evigan) - or sticking to the tao of Theta Pi, which includes "solidarity and secrecy," as pushed by house head Jessica (Leah Pipes, a standout in the cast). They choose the latter, shoving Megan’s body down a mineshaft only to be, predictably, offed one by one eight months later by a hooded killer who knows what they did last summer; er, I guess it would’ve been fall.
Groundbreaking it is not. Row falls victim to the same tired scare stupidities—e.g., girl alone in the basement with broken flashlight; the shoddiest cell phone reception known to mankind - but is redeemed by its snappy script and a few colorful characters.
Pipes as HBIC (Head Bitch in Charge) Jessica is the most deliciously bitchy character to come along in awhile. She boasts enough blatant narcissism and conveniently-bendable, social-climbing "morals" to rival the star of VH1’s I Love New York. Rumer Willis endears as breakdown-prone nerd girl with perpetually unwashed hair Ellie, while Carrie Fisher makes a brief but effective appearance as mother hen Mrs. Crenshaw, hilariously outfitted with a shotgun in one scene. What, no Light Saber?
Despite all the push-up bras so ubiquitously donned by the Theta sisters, some still fall flat—in the whole "character" department, that is. Lead heroine Cassidy’s moral chest-thumping (figurative) at the top of the movie loses its steam. She doesn’t do anything to show conviction towards doing the 'right' thing over her shaky commitment to a sorority house that still throws foam parties (seriously, a “foam party”? Is this 1995!?).
Claire (Jamie Chung) is forgettable as the Token Minority Chick and Megan (Audrina Patridge of The Hills fame) is equally so as, well, the Offed in the First Couple of Scenes Chick. Too bad not every Theta sister’s afforded the same sassy back-and-forth Jessica is.
What it lacks in character depth and time-appropriate fetes, Row makes up for with memorable deep-throat deaths. Lucky for the average college-aged male, they’re rife with sexual innuendo that’s likely to prompt a decent bloodrush. It’s a "pick your phallus" kind of deal: booze bottle shoved down the hatch, flare gun through the kisser, and tire iron "pacifiers" are all on the menu, executed (heh) with a slick side of comedy. Kills are carried out with splatter-y aplomb heightened by director Stewart Hendler’s decent mix of handheld rawness and slick camera work. And spoiler alert: the booze-y death that befalls the house’s resident pill-popping alcoholic Chugs (a sarcastic Margo Harshman), even suggests a little Sorority Row social commentary maybe? Hmm…
If your brain’s already worn out from weighing the pros and cons of Obamacare then great; you’re in luck. This isn’t exactly a thinker’s thriller. Unlike its camp-slash(er)-comedy predecessors, Row lacks the tight, witty self-awareness of the first Scream or, more recently, Drag Me to Hell. It could’ve benefitted from a more clever script that spread the smarts instead of being stingy by letting some girls shine while others fall into Next Girl Offed oblivion. It sometimes vacillates between comedy and serious killing, never fully committing to either and suffering a bit of an identity crisis in the process.
But it’s fun. Enjoy it for what its worth: junk food for the synpases via hot chicks, deaths by found-object fellatio, and a spontaneous dance routine (!). Oh, and boobies.