When one see’s the name Anthony C. Ferrante attached to a project originally called American Horror House, likely playing off the popularity of American Horror Story series, the interest is piqued, however, to find out that he is former horror writer for Fangoria magazine, listed as screenwriter for a TV-Movie with a TV-14 rating the interest wanes just a bit. Nevertheless, the writer turned director responsible for Boo (2005) and the outrageous Sharknado series, worked with director Darin Scott, who unleashed Dark House (2009), brings together a fun horror film, to fill the empty space on a weekday afternoon. Yes, the overall conceptual design finds itself watering down in many places, except with references to blood shedding in the opening segment of butchering of parents. Anytime the word ‘sorority’ enters into the horror genre, the smiles light up for both old-school fans and the teenage boys market for their eyes spinning with the hope of T&A among other hints of mindless pleasures, however herein the factor leans to reference to Charlie Angels (2000) meeting Scary Movie 2 (2001) for a brief scene.
This movie falls squarely into the realm of so bad that it actually becomes a fun movie, with both the horror and pop-culture reference working effectively well, and knowing it has no chance to become a lasting thrill ride, it centers around the decaying dialogue and silliness that surrounds many of the movies on the SyFy network. Once the opening sequences moves onward, the audience finds itself to the athletic skills of Marylynn (Ruby Lou Smith) running across the college campus in boots and a violin case, and this continues for far too long, and in fact it must wear dangerous well on her impatient music teacher Miss Pena (Isabel Cueva). Soon enough, the audience finds out what poor acting delivers with screeching ear damage of fakery of musical skills, Ruby’s character simply falls apart for everyone to watch. Soon enough though the story moves swiftly onward an a Detective Hammond, (Gralen Bryant Banks, who also starred in Arachnoquake (2012)) portraying a 1980s wardrobe malfunction a lookalike for classic Member’s Only jacket with almost comical performance of his skills and questions for investigating Marylynn’s absent from society. One must note, the most the horror take place at a sorority house, obviously for the title, but that Morgan Fairchild stars as the house mother Miss Margot, with stellar glamour and elegance capturing the each scene she graces, as vengeful ghost gathering as many souls that cross her path. An interesting tidbit, this does not mark the first time in the sorority house setting rather her third time, and equally noting third tv-movie on the subject, the first which also marked her horror film, The Initiation of Sarah (1978) and then a remake of the same movie in 2006, as another tv-movie. As with any film in this category, there must be pledges and a hell week, and this one no less contains that, especially as their captor wear Alice Sweet Alice (1976) coats and masks, and torment the exceptional beautiful pledges. Daria (Alessandra Torre Sani – who consequentially starred in a few episodes of American Horror Story), join with Sarah (Salina Duplessis), Missy (Sydney Spies) and Kaylee (Cait Taylor) round the final girls of the pledge class, small number but it is a TV-movie with a small budget. Now, everyone also knows that every class needs the super sadistic and borderline bitchy individual dishing out the chores and ridiculous tasks such as stealing a stuffed mascot of brother fraternity, and handling by Colleen (Jackie Tuttle, from The Final Girls (2015)). Quickly enough the ghosts assist with the removal of the pledges, and even dish out poison at a Halloween party of college students, the best is a soda bottle jammed into a pledge’s eye socket and filled with rich blood. The body count ratchets itself up quickly and that becomes a redeeming quality for the entire movie, along with groans and laughs.
The theme of Sorority Horror House niche market in the genre, conjures the elements of grindhouse and the goofiest killing scenarios, and stretch nicely into the slasher market, with sometimes a touch soft-core, as the actress usually have some odd reason for flashing the T&A. Though the genre, made strives from the 1980s into the 1990s the dialogue increase and the bonding with characters enhance, and a set formula, started a continuous line of knockoffs, but never recreating the magic of the standard bearers of years before, sadly at the expense of the fans. Most think of The House on Sorority Row (1983) , Hell Night (1981), and of course the trilogy of Sorority House Massacre which combine the two most sought after words for the male teenager demographics and many horror fans in general ‘sorority’ and ‘massacre’ these terms generate a buzz unto themselves.
A rule in horror, if possible allow the location to serve as a character in the movie, when a slight plus, the movie was set on LSU Campus in Baton Rouge, LA, and centered at only locations, boring houses for sorority and fraternity compounds, though the men’s house looks like a real place. As for the Alpha Beta Zeta (the name of the sorority, which with a little research actually a real non-academic philanthropic sorority dedicated to raising for Alzheimer’s research), otherwise the house contains a rude mentally course in set designing. The normal elements of horror for the tension to grow, all forgotten and given some very hard jump cuts, with an pacing that seems equal to a car running on a flat tire, and the driver trying to keep it in a straight line. By the end, the movie settles down and tries to attempt the success of previous movies, with so very low budget but still solid special effects.
Ferrante delivers a solid screenplay and Scott performs his duties well, but the movies falls flat, even with a bit of standoffish resentment to hazing and bullying two common themes, from the Big Sisters and the pledges bonding to be against them. A core theme for the pledge class is to bond and help each other and at times to go against the core and defend each other in acts of unity and sisterhood, in this case. Colleen’s character taking a lesbian theme to a very funny line, it all begs to question why ghosts, and not a creepy killing janitor or mysterious housemother from hell. The movie, while very bad is actually a fun waste of mere 83-minutes that doesn’t need to wait for Halloween.