A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this college-set slasher bloodbath is full of gory deaths, mainly impalements. Sexual and erotic elements are graphic and lurid, beginning with a drugged-up "date rape" situation and continuing with casual references to sex as a tool for revenge, status, exploitation, and even commerce (trading sex for pills). Drinking is frequent (one victim is killed with a shattering liquor bottle), and college-level "education" is depicted as one alcohol, sex, and drug-saturated party after another. Profanity is the movie's least raw element, but you can still expect plenty of uses of "f--k," "s--t," and more.
What's the story?
In a setup that echoes I Know What You Did Last Summer (and makes that horror cheese look masterful by comparison), a group of seniors in the Theta Pi sorority pulls a prank on an unfaithful boyfriend during a drunken party, making him think that his lover, Megan (Audrina Patridge), has fatally overdosed during sex. But the stunt goes sickeningly wrong when Megan gets killed for real with a tire iron. The women who were in on the prank are pressured by their haughty, conniving ringleader, Jessica (Leah Pipes), to dispose of the body and keep what happened a secret. Eight months later, at graduation, the guilty girls start receiving ominous phone messages and images, and a figure in a hooded graduation robe starts stalking and killing them, wielding a tire iron tricked-out with blades and sharp points. Is a vengeful Megan back from the dead?
Is it any good?
The bulk of this movie is just cruel sadism and violent death, not comedy, and it seems to take forever to get to the uninteresting revelation of the slasher's true identity. The usual clichés of violent attacks and characters wandering in darkened basements aren't made any easier by wobbly, dim, hand-held camerawork -- it's as though the onscreen binge-drunkenness spilled over onto the cinematography crew.
A remake of the obscure 1983 horror film House on Sorority Row, SORORITY ROW stands out mainly for the cynicism involved -- and not just that of filmmakers who are commercially peddling unoriginal gore-horror leftovers and party-hearty school imagery to impressionable young moviegoers. The movie's campus-bound characters are particularly nasty and practically deserve to be slain (the murderer basically says so at the end), and what little entertainment value to be found here lies in the film's satirical touches -- tongue-in-cheek dialogue (especially from Jessica) that emphasizes what awful people these are and actresses willing to take their bitchy sorority personas way over the top.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the appeal of horror movies like this. What's the allure of watching young people die in such gory fashion? Many of the victims here are quite despicable -- does that make the material more "entertaining" than "splatter" movies in which relatively innocent people are terrorized?
Why do you think movies set in college focus almost exclusively on partying, having sex, being stalked, and plotting revenge? Why is that? Parents, ask your teens what they expect of college.
Some of the movie's grim humor concerns the callous attitudes and cruelties of the cliquish Theta Pi girls. Does the movie send an anti-sorority message? Is the Greek system really like this?
- In theaters: September 14, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: February 23, 2010
- Cast: Briana Evigan, Leah Pipes, Rumer Willis
- Director: Stewart Hendler
- Studio: Summit Entertainment
- Genre: Horror
- Run time: 101 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong bloody violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and partying
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.