Hello and welcome to a very special edition of Buried Credits we have dubbed “Star Wars Month”! For three weeks in January we will be exploring the films of the three main actors of the original Star Wars trilogy! Buried Credits, a column that deep dives into the IMDB pages of favorite actors, directors, and writers to find their lost, forgotten, or unknown film and TV credits, continues this week with works featuring Carrie Fisher.
Sorority Row (2009)
Based on the original script for the 1983 slasher The House on Sorority Row – which was originally titled Seven Sisters – Sorority Row follows the a group of sorority sisters who strike up a very mean, but worthy, prank when Megan (Audrina Patridge) is cheated on by her boyfriend. Their plan? Make her boyfriend Garrett (Matt O’Leary) thinks he’s killed her then come up with a plan to dump her body to evade prison. Unfortunately for Megan, they all played their parts too well – and when one of the girls mentions puncturing the lungs so there’s no air in the body to help make it float in water, Garrett takes a tire iron and jams it into Megan’s chest. After this, her fake death isn’t so fake anymore. Afterwards they leave the body in an abandoned mine shaft nearby and swear upon the sacred bond of sisterhood that they won’t ever say a word. Fast forward a year and all the girls are graduating, everyone’s getting ready to move on with their post-college lives, and someone is out there telling the girls they know they’re secret and killing people at their post-graduation party.
There’s definitely some pretty basic stuff here; the setup, the threat of a killer, all the major killings, the reveal, the reveal and subsequent “end” of the killer are all commonplace in slasher fare. Sorority Row feels like a slasher film straight out of the 80s but with a modern touch. There’s the ridiculously terrible main characters – and I mean some of them are downright horrible people – the party scenes with current pop music, booze and sex, lots of blood, and everything you could possibly want want from a slasher film. But it’s the writing for the characters is where the movie shines. Most of them are pretty terrible people – the two main exceptions being the main character Cassidy (Briana Evigan) and Ellie (Rumer Willis). That said, co-writers Josh Stolberg and Pete Goldfinger make them so endearing and give them such strong personalities that you almost feel bad for them when they get offed, even though their death’s satisfy the need for bloodletting we all expect from a body count picture. The kills are the second best part of the film; there’s not an overabundance of blood, but there’s enough to satiate the thirst of any slasher fan – and the kills are just mean enough to pack a punch.
The acting is pretty solid by almost everyone. It’s nothing to write home about, but none of them are bad at all. Margo Harshman does really well as Charlie “Chugs” as she portrays a slightly less flattering character who, in one scene, is trying to screw a freshman right after purging up her food and getting drunk, but also gives us enough sweet moments to make us care about her. Jamie Chung also does a fine job, but Leah Pipes as Jessica, the leader of the sorority sisters, knocks it out of the park with her perfect comedic timing and tone. On top of all this, I must say the cinematography is gorgeous. In the 2000s slasher remake squad, this is by far the most gorgeous looking of them all.
I can’t really complain too much about the film. One of the very few things that isn’t great about Sorority Row is how long it takes to get going. I’m a formula guy when it comes to slashers and most slasher films hit the ground running. But Sorority Row takes a good 20 minutes to establish the backstory for why everything is happening. Even though it doesn’t abide by the traditional formula in that regard, it does establish the set-up at a snail’s pace. The only other thing that got to me was the incredibly gratuitous boob shot. Yes, it’s an R-rated slasher film and there are always going to be shots of breasticles; but this one felt so tacked on and unnecessary, as if the writers said to themselves, “Oh we forgot the boobs, here just throw this random shot in, it’s fine.”
The House Mother herself – because every sorority needs one – is played by none other than Carrie Fisher. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see much of less, but when we do, she kicks some ass. Fisher exudes confidence in this role, which makes sense as she portrays a character who has to watch over, and at times discipline, a house full of cutthroat sorority sisters on a daily basis. Even though she’s only in a few scenes, Fisher is just oozing with the confidence, sarcasm, and overall badassery of her character and that’s even before she picks up a shotgun to go to town on the hooded killer to protect her girls.
Verdict: Buried Treasure
While not the most cinematic and artful of films, Sorority Row succeeds in exactly what it set out to be: fun, sexy, bloody entertainment. All the characters feel a little stereotypical, but they all are well-written and full of personality that we actually feel for. Carrie Fisher rocks it as the matriarch who cares deeply for her girls, but will also take no shit from them either. A few little complaints here and there, but overall this film is an ace slasher.
Come back tomorrow as we take a dance on the darker side of things where Carrie Fisher stars in a white trash drug filled dramatic thriller about Jesco White!