Sorority Row Row Row Your Boat

First, SPOILERS. You’ve been warned.

I finally got around to seeing Sorority Row. The preview was too over-the-top to resist! It was no Orphan, but it was awful in it’s own right. Here’s the premise: There’s this sorority sister Megan who had a boyfriend, Garrett, who cheated on her. She wants revenge so she has another sister slip Garrett fake roofies so that he can rape her, at which point she will pretend to die. It seems pointlessly cruel, but then again for the scheme to work, Garrett is agreeing to rape his former girlfriend, so maybe he does deserve it? ‘tever. During the prank, Garrett freaks out and kills Megan, who he already believed to be dead. Everyone agrees to hide the body and keep the incident a secret. Months later, however, someone starts killing everyone who knows what really happened that night.

I contemplated giving Sorority Row a no feminist critique, like I did with G.I. Joe, but it seems a little too easy of a target. I mean, the director claims to have included nudity “to pay homage to the tradition” of horror films – and for no other reason, I’m sure. Besides, Sorority Row is a film that’s very existence relies upon exaggerated stereotypes of women, and men, for that matter. The sorority girls are almost uniformly catty, shallow, slutty, and hedonistic. The one main exception is our protagonist, Cass, who “wants” to do the right thing, but always finds an excuse not to. If the movie has a moralistic message, it would be the repeated quote that “you are judged by the company you keep.” It’s hard to feel bad for our heroine since she associates exclusively with killers and assholes.

In addition to Cass we have Jessica, the head bitch in charge; Ellie, the brain who gets to be the popular girls’ friend because she does their homework; and Claire, the Asian-American friend, who the other sisters keep around for diversity’s sake. That’s not just my take, they actually come right out and say it.

Oh, and then there’s Chugs who warrants mention separately since she’s more of a caricature than a character. In a house of slutty boozers, Chugs is the sluttiest and booziest. Chugs will fuck you out of boredom, for drugs, or because she’s on the drugs she just fucked you for. It’s uncomfortable how awful she is. When a guy rejects her sexual proposition because she tastes like vomit, she says, “Whatever, it’s not my fault you’re gay.” At another point, she comments that “Roofie sex isn’t that bad – you get laid and you get a good night’s sleep.” As far as I can tell, no one needs roofies to get in Chugs’ pants, so she just must be taking them recreationally. Even though Chugs is the first sister murdered by the serial killer, it still isn’t soon enough.

Other characters include Carrie Fisher, who I feel bad for. Not because her character dies, but because she’s in the film at all. There’s also Maggie, the sister of the deceased Megan, who tells the sorority girls that she has decided that next year she will attend the same college and pledge the same sorority as “closure” for her parents. It seems remarkably unhealthy to have one daughter assume the life of the presumed dead daughter, but maybe I just don’t know how closure works.

The movie made me cringe and jump a lot because I don’t much like gore and the unsympathetic characters met some disgusting demises at the hands of the killer. As far as I could tell, there were two reasonable suspects throughout the movie: Jessica’s boyfriend, Kyle, a Senator’s son who might stoop to anything to keep the secret and protect his dad’s political career or Cass’s boyfriend, Andy, who served no purpose and therefore must have some involvement. Here’s how the movie dealt with it: they’re both the killers! Or at least I think so. First Kyle was the killer, then Andy comes back and kills Kyle and declares himself the killer. So they’re both the killers? Did they work as a team? It is never explained and it left three of us watching it – three people who are far more intelligent than this film’s intended audience if I do say so myself – confused as to who did what. I’ve consulted some message boards to figure out how we were intended to make sense of that, and I guess the prevailing wisdom is that Kyle wasn’t the killer killer, but after being caught cheating, he went into a blind homicidal rage and became a killer in his own right. Just not the killer. Misdirection, you see. Or sloppy script writing.

Which leads me to the film’s portrayal of men: violent, crazy, stupid. The three main male characters (Garrett, Kyle, Andy) are not only all killers, but pretty pointlessly so. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if that’s the only alternative, I guess I’d rather be a sorority girl. Or Kyle’s dad, the Senator. In his one scene, he says ridiculous things like, “I don’t like surprises. When I pick up a book, the first thing I do is read the last page.”

Speaking of the last page, let’s just wrap this up, shall we? We finally get a moment where a sister legitimately helps out a fellow sister by saving her life and using the “that’s what sisters are for” convention. I had been waiting for that the entire movie! The last scene shows a few of the girls escaping from the burning sorority house. Rather than fleeing from a building engulfed in flames like any normal person, the girls strut in slow motion, baring their cleavages like empowered femme fatales. They may have survived, but they should still be going to jail for their previous crimes. Alas, that part is not depicted; instead the film skips ahead to reveal that the Theta Pi house has been rebuilt and is going strong. You’d think recent multiple homicides would be enough to close the chapter, but I guess not. We also see that Maggie, biological sister of the first dead sister, has indeed joined the sorority. Why the hell would she even subject herself to that mess? Is that part of the closure?

Ah, but we can’t get closure because there is a gardener at the sorority house’s yard. He has slit wrists! The implication is that it’s Garrett, who we believed to be dead after being hit by a car, and that he’s back to seek revenge on the sorority. This makes very little sense on a lot of levels. Firstly, though we did see him cut himself a while back, Garrett’s wounds should have healed “fifteen months later,” unless he’s slitting his wrists on a regular basis now. If he were going to have some lasting scars, it’d probably be from being run over by a car repeatedly. Secondly, Garrett has no reason to have beef with these women. All of the sorority girls he interacted with have graduated, and moreover all of the girls who actually scorned him are dead. But you do that, Garrett. You pretend that there might be a sequel.

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