Directed by Stewart Hendler
Not having pledged into the Greek system, I suppose I can't comment on the likelihood of a sorority house prank going horribly, gorily wrong, nor on a group of Theta Pi sisters deciding, after accidentally killing one of their own, to cover it up rather than going to jail for manslaughter. But whatever shrewdness contained in Sorority Row comes from the way it manages to both glorify and vilify its version of a college campus, making its fakeness a key ingredient rather than a hindrance. In that sense—the way it shamelessly amps up its bitchery and cleavage—the movie, the latest remake of a half-remembered eighties horror cheapie, is a more adept piece of slasher exploitation than we've seen in awhile.
Compounding the trash-glamour factor into one tiny, skinny body, the initial accident victim is played by Audrina Partridge from The Hills, who in her big-screen debut struggles with her three lines and one reaction face, but makes an impeccably convincing corpse. The slashing comes less with the body disposal, which is the subject perhaps too much screaming debate in a movie that for some reason sees fit to run longer than eighty-five minutes, but months later, when the girls start receiving text messages implying that someone knows what they did last summer, er, semester. This sends Cassidy (smoky-voiced Briana Evigan from Step Up 2 the Streets), estranged by her objection to the secret, back to her less conflicted classmates slash sisters for life. The movie doesn't bother to characterize the girls, exactly, but it does give some of them some entertaining mouthiness, from the hilarious dismissiveness of ringleader Jessica (Leah Pipes) to the more subdued, almost sardonic self-loathing of the designated alcoholic slut Chuggs (Margo Hushman), who offers her mirror image a coldly hilarious and even slightly heartbreaking "cheers" before setting out to fuck her therapist for prescription samples.
Director Stewart Hendler goes through a lot of glossy slasher motions, but with trashy proficiency. The movie opens with a long tracking shot through a debauched sorority house, lingering on sights only seen in ridiculous movie college parties or subsequent ridiculous college parties trying in vain to recreate bad movies: quarter-naked chicks pillow-fighting on trampolines, chicks doing sexy choreographed dances, chicks everywhere doing whatever. Either Hendler went to the same Maxim University as Michael Bay, or Bay went to Wesleyan and Hendler is having a bit of a laugh. Later, a deserted sorority house blow-out turns out to provide some respectable mis-en-scene, and a girl gets killed in overflowing patio bubble bath with visual distinction that reminded me, however briefly, of raptors picking off extras in the tall grass in Spielberg's Lost World.
That's not to say Sorority Row is such a wildly entertaining genre riff. It's more like decent drive-in fodder, just campy enough to hint that it could've been even bolder—Mean Girls armed with a tricked-out tire iron, say. Instead, the script is content to offer sporadic (if well-timed) quips, never full-fledged satire. Attractive, dopey, driven, not much to say: this movie is ready to pledge Theta.