The Initiation of Sarah

Movie review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
The Initiation of Sarah Movie Poster Image
Extra-violent and snobby sorority horror remake.
  • NR
  • 2007
  • 90 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

With few exceptions, the female characters (including one of the two adults) are obsessed with appearance and popularity. The sorority life is cast in a strongly negative light, suggesting that each group has a secret motive in its recruitment and recruits only girls who fit pre-determined criteria. Manipulation and trickery run rampant, even turning sisters against one another. Girls dress and act provocatively to influence boys' actions. Only one character enjoys a friendship based on a truly personal connection.

Violence

Ubiquitous violence includes lighting fires, throwing knives, stabbings, attempted strangulation, and discussion of human sacrifice.

Sex

Superficial comments like "he's a hottie," lots of flirting, ogling at females' breasts, kissing scenes, and talk of whether a character is a virgin is common fare. A few scenes imply that sex is to come or has just finished (with some post-coital re-dressing), though there's no nudity.

Language

Infrequent use of "bitch," "ass," and "hell."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

In one scene, an underage student downs a beer in his dorm room.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this revamped remake of a 1978 TV horror flick comes with a "viewer discretion" warning for good reason. The plot's eerie focus on witchcraft and human sacrifice (for the continued existence of evil witches) mixed with disturbing scenes of victims begging for their lives as they're chained to a sacrificial table is too much for kids -- even some younger teens. Violence is prevalent and includes two stabbings, some attempted strangulations (from afar, by magic), a fire started in a dorm room, and a few spell-casting exchanges. And if that's not enough, most of the characters are superficial, conniving coeds who see being in a "good" sorority as the ticket to their eternal popularity -- which seems to be the main purpose of their college life.

User Reviews

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Teen, 13 years old Written bylilmisspixel April 9, 2008

This was really good!

This was a really good movie, and I think most ages could see it, but probably someone under 11 or 12 would be scared. The sex and violence really weren't... Continue reading

What's the story?

Twins Lindsey and Sarah arrive at Temple Hill University, and, as double legacies to the school's most prestigious sorority, Alpha Nu Gamma, enter the rush process with varying degrees of excitement. Lindsey pins her hopes of popularity on pledging, but no-nonsense Sarah is skeptical of Greek life. Only at the urging of her family does Sarah agree to give it a chance. When strange things start to happen when Sarah is near Alpha Nu's cunning president, Chorine, she turns to her professor, Dr. Hunter (Jennifer Tilly), who's also the advisor to Alpha Nu's rival sorority, Pi Epsilon Delta. While Dr. Hunter's tales of eons-old witchcraft and ongoing battles between good and evil seem far-fetched, Sarah's own mysterious powers begin to make sense. As reality sinks in for Sarah, Lindsey settles into life at Alpha Nu and joins their desperate efforts to recruit her sister. Sarah must gain strength from the Pi Epsilon Delta sisters to save her own life -- and Lindsey's soul.

Is it any good?

THE INITIATION OF SARAH is a well-cast thriller that keeps you guessing, if not exactly on the edge of your seat. But parents beware: This is definitely not a cutesy tween flick about the ups and downs of sorority life. The movie is riddled with violence -- including murder and the implication of human sacrifice -- and mature topics like attempted suicide, using sex for manipulation, and manufacturing sexual attraction through liquid concoctions. On top of that, most of the female characters are popularity-crazed, snobbish socialites who spend more time studying the boys than anything else in college.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the pressure for social acceptance. Who determines what's popular and what isn't? How does it feel to be on the outside looking in at the "cool kids"? How does the media affect our perception of ourselves? Parents of teens can also discuss Greek life on college campuses. Are kids interested in rushing a sorority or fraternity? What do you think the benefits would be? The drawbacks? What do you think of the rush process? Is real-life rush the same as what you see on TV and in movies?

Movie details

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