It's hard to find depth or meaning in horror films, especially in our current blood-soaked culture, but some movies just thrive on giving us a good jump or thrill. Sorority Row is a forgettable remake, but for the entire hour and forty minutes you're engaged in the bloody gore and cheesy storyline, and there's nothing wrong with it.
The girls of Theta Pi may be shallow and self-centered but when sorority sister Megan (Audrina Patridge) is cheated on by her boyfriend, the girls decide to play a harmless prank on the philandering boy and pretend Megan is dead. When the prank goes horribly wrong and Megan is killed the five sisters vow to keep the murder a secret. On graduation day the secret rears its head when a hooded figure starts picking off the girls one by one.
Sorority Row is nothing more or less than it's sold as: a horror movie with young girls in peril. While it's not the most in-depth or though provoking premise it's more than entertaining and engaging. The first ten minutes establish the lives of the Theta Pi's and you can tell who's marked with a big X on their heads when the bodies start piling up but that's what makes this feel like an old-school horror film. The original was a cheesy 80's film to begin with and this seems reminiscent of those types of movies, the ones where you know how things are going to go and you're excited to see how people are offed. On that front the kills are pretty standard but there's two or three that are brilliant, the most prominent involving a liquor bottle. Sorority Row also takes a different approach, especially with it's emphasis on snaring the teens, by spacing out the scares. Note there isn't anything ridiculously scary and jump scares are heavy, but the amount of story that is put in between scares is interesting. While overactive teens might find there's too much space between kills, you really learn about the characters than you would in any other horror movies. You spend time with the sisters Cassidy (Briana Evigan) and Jessica (Leah Pipes) attempting to lead normal lives amongst the tragedy. When the murderer becomes the focus towards the middle and end of the story everything is heightened, yet there's still moments of the group moving away from the madness and attempting to solve what amounts to a mystery.
The acting is what drives this and while the characters are all stock and predictable the actresses do well with the material. Briana Evigan continues to play up the teen audience she's gaining after her role in Step Up 2 and she does well as the heroine. She's a likeable, down to earth girl and one to root for. Leah Pipes is hilarious as the quasi-mean girl who “makes being a bitch an art form.” The same can be said for Margo Harshman who plays the promiscuous “Chuggs.” Rumer Willis and Jamie Chung are the most bland of the group as the screamer and the hottie respectively but as long as you ignore them they don't bring down the material. And despite her focus in the trailer Hills star Audrina Patridge is not one of the main characters despite her high billing. Carrie Fischer also gets the laughs as the house mother, it would have been nice to see more of her.
In terms of negativity the only issue is that the movie is utterly straightforward and stock. If you don't enjoy 80s horror films or cheesy slasher pictures you won't enjoy this at all. The movie does have its slow moments and at an hour and forty minutes it starts to feel it towards the end. The actors are all bland so don't expect any stellar performances. The ending is the biggest problem because it's laughably ridiculous. It's easy to narrow down who the murderer is within the first half hour but like most movies in this vein, the reasoning is bizarre and the ending leaves room for some type of continuation.
As much as I wanted to hate this movie I found myself having a good time. Sorority Row doesn't attempt to be art and is just a fun time at the movies. This is recommended for group viewing or DVD so you can make fun of things, but if you need something to see this isn't a waste. Sorority Row gets a 3/5.