Remember horror genre's rules to enjoy Sorority Row

Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2009

T he Gold Town Nickelodeon was out, since the L.A. Times had already given us their thoughts on the movie playing at Shattuck Way. The options for this morning, then, included the three new flicks at Gross Alaska. My choices were about as exciting as making the decision between a swift kick to the shins or a punch in the face.

"Gamer"? Only if you're looking to kill a few brain cells. "Extract"? Okay, actually this is where I have to confess something. "Extract," written and directed by Mike Judge ("Office Space") and starring the always funny Jason Bateman, looks good. However, I'm no longer in my Los Angeles state of mind where commuting 40 miles to work one way seems like no big deal. Nope, I'm a Juneauiite again, baby! And let's be honest: sometimes driving from Lena Loop to downtown is a deal-breaker.

That's how, by default, I found myself Sunday evening at the Glacier Cinemas for "Sorority Row." The title probably tells you a few things even if you haven't caught a preview yet for the horror flick. Yeah, there are sorority girls a-plenty. Yes, often times they're dressed scantily. Alcohol and drugs make several appearances. All of that is true.

Also true, however, is that "Sorority Row" is not a half-badeffort.

Of course, horror movies play according to a different set of rules than other genres. That's true both within the movie as well as when watching it. Within the movie, as most are no doubt aware, if someone says, "I'll be right back," they won't be. Watching a movie like "Sorority Row" means embracing ahead of time the general silliness of the genre. You have to overlook the gaping holes in logic and instead enjoy the game of trying to determine who the masked murderer is before it is revealed.

The premise for this particular horror story is one of the better ones I've seen. A group of sorority sisters decides to play a practical joke on one of their boyfriends because he has cheated. Essentially, while making out with him, the girl fakes her own death, which he buys. Soon, taking it further and further, the girls are driving with this boy when they decide they can't just take her to the hospital. That would look bad for all of them! They agree to dispose of the body.

Except while the girls, all in on the joke, are pretending to look for rocks to smash the bod, the boy decides he'll make sure the body won't float - by driving a tire iron through her chest. By the way, "The Hills" star Audrina Partridge (use air quotes when you read that) plays the girl getting accidentally murdered. There's something very satisfying about that.

Now she really is dead; now there really is a problem. The problem compounds itself with bad decision after bad decision, and soon someone that knows what they did is busy murdering co-eds. Is it Megan? Is it the boy they tricked?

I can't tell you that.

What I can tell you is the acting in "Sorority Row" is fine. That is to say there's nobody so untalented (Partridge only briefly) that it ruins what little credibility the movie has to begin with. There are even a couple of funny lines. The gore is appropriately bloody - not Tarantino bloody, but not PG-13 either. And perhaps most importantly, I found myself squirming in my seat often due to the tension created on screen. I even jumped in fright once or twice.

With a title like "Sorority Row" what else could one ask for?

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