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Case Number 18414

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Sorority Row (Blu-Ray)

Summit Entertainment // 2009 // 101 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // February 26th, 2010

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All Rise...

This brought back awkward memories of when Judge David Johnson pledged for his college sorority. Operative word: awkward.

Editor's Note

Our review of Sorority Row, published March 5th, 2010, is also available.

The Charge

Sisters for life…or death.

Opening Statement

A gaggle of sorority sisters are hunted by a madman and picked off one by one—much like my brain cells.

Facts of the Case

Those Theta Pi girls, they have all the fun. The most popular sorority on Nondescript University's campus is consistently the site of the biggest and sexiest parties. After one such barnburner, a group of best friends and Theta Pi sisters collude to perpetrate a prank. Unfortunately for them, their innocent tomfoolery backfires in a big way and a corpse is produced, thus sealing their fate, as is decreed by the Derivative Slasher Movie Handbook of Rules and Statutes.

Several months later, violence begins to go down, with a variety of victims within the friends' orbit getting dispatched by a mysterious hooded man with a custom, bladed tire iron. In a flame-ridden climactic showdown, the killer is revealed, the survivors make their stands and the firefighters don't show up for twenty minutes.

The Evidence

Worthless movie. And I've got a pretty high threshold for pain when it comes to horror movies. I'm not looking for a groundbreaking script packed with nuanced performances and a sly, self-aware sense of wit. If any entertainment can be squeezed out whatever slasher endeavor I've parked myself in front of, be it through a selection of creative kills or a nifty twist or a killer with a cool gimmick, I'm willing to let a lot slide.

There is nothing redeeming about Sorority Row; not a single interesting idea, not a single interesting character, not a single interesting kill. It's the most pointless 100 minutes I've spent in some time, and that includes the Knicks/Bucks game I watched earlier in the week.

Thinking critically about Sorority Row is anathema to syntax creation, so bear with me as I try and power through the rest of this review before I lose interest and short out the keyboard with my drool.

The characters are a collection of stiffs that gives new meaning to the words "cannon fodder." Actually, we might need to formulate a new cliché for slasher victims thanks to this movie. What do you call characters you actively pine to see murdered? Because that's the level of emotional involvement I was able to reach with these irritating, one-dimensional, stereotypical shrill sorority sisters.

With that element of tension out the window, you know, not really caring if everyone in the movie succumbed to the killer's pathetic murder weapon, all that's left is the visceral: the bloodshed and the inevitable reveal of the killer's identity.

The death scenes aren't anything special. There's a fair amount of blood and a few killings create a marginal level of jump-scare, but overall there is nothing of note and absolutely nothing you haven't seen done better before. The blame for that can be shared by director Stewart Hendler's lack of creativity and the lameness of the killer and his weapon of choice, a clumsy tire-iron with knives on each side that seem hugely impractical for the business of slaughter. Then again, when you're essentially remaking I Know What You Did Last Summer and have a horrible, cliché-ridden script to work from I suppose you'd be desperate to find any kind of unique gimmick.

Finally, there's the twist ending, and in the off-chance you're actually going to volunteer to watch this blood-clot, I won't ruin it for you. The killer's identity makes a smidgen of sense, surprisingly, and I actually bought that he or she was able to physically perpetrate the murders, so there's that. The end is excruciatingly drawn out, however, and the main heroine makes so many dumbass decisions (she not once, but twice leaves the maniac unconscious instead of finishing the job, which comes back to bite her and the audience in scenes that everyone except for the screenwriter is expecting) any goodwill generated from this small character victory is incinerated.

The Blu-ray mirrors its feature in its inadequacy. The 2.40:1 widescreen transfer is a notch better than an upconverted standard-def DVD. Much of the action takes place in the dark and the video quality is spotty here. Brighter scenes? Not bad. But the HD gloss I've come to expect from top-tier Blu releases is absent. Sound fares better, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio pushing out the overblown score with verve. Extras include an annoying picture-in-picture video commentary with the director and stars; featurettes on the making-of and the death scenes; a go-to-any-kill feature, which might be cool if there were any kills worth revisiting; forgettable deleted scenes (including an alternate ending stupider than the theatrical ending, which is an accomplishment) and outtakes.

Closing Statement

What's Greek for "This movie poops on my brain?"

The Verdict

Guilty. Foreclose on this sorority house. And burn it down again.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 80
Audio: 90
Extras: 75
Acting: 60
Story: 40
Judgment: 50

Perp Profile

Studio: Summit Entertainment
Video Formats:
• 2.40:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Spanish)
Subtitles:
• English (SDH)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Year: 2009
MPAA Rating: Rated R
Genres:
• Bad
• Blu-ray
• Horror
• Thriller

Distinguishing Marks

• Picture-in-Picture
• Deleted Scenes
• Featurettes
• Gag Reel

Accomplices

• IMDb








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