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Monday, March 14, 2016

Sorority Sister Slaughter (2007) Horror Slasher

Sorority Sister Slaughter (2007) - Wen the DVD which arrived from Netflix had the blue screen without any DVD into screen I know I was in some trouble. My mind immediately started thinking low res video film with the mostly amateur actors and shitty camera work was possible. Sure enough there were some really strange and disjointed camera shots during the title sequence. Shot in video, or a transfer from the film opens in black and white  in what is seemingly a minority sorority house in the fifties where dahlia is upset waiting for a call from her boy Billy, she is upset and obviously pregnant from how she is touching her abdomen in the bathroom. Her friends are trying to talk her out of the room and out to a party. Having been dumped by Billy she is at her wits end and this drives poor Dahlia (Tafne Ellington) to stick a knitting needle inside herself to try to end the unwanted pregnancy. Let's remember this was pre-abortion as a legal option and the statement her might just be 'Do we want to return to the days when girls ended up dying in the tub because of a lack of choice. The scene is compelling enough to keep viewing even if the production values are low.
  Director Susan Hippen forcing the connection between past and present but maybe does not have to. A scene where one of the modern day girls, Eve (Desiry Hall) finds Dahlia's ring in the bathroom where she died. Keeping that ring can not be a good thing in the context of a horror movie.  The lighting maybe from the transfer in this part of the film is too dark and it does not help that a lot of the scenes are lit by candlelight since the electricity has yet to be turned on in the house.
  Move forward in time to 2006 on Valentines Day, back at the sorority we have a candles and color lit scene of a young woman settling into a dream. Will this film end as just a dream all along? I have seen that before so the possibility is there. I believe we fade to a dream of all the young women arriving to that house from the fifties scene where they are about to take up residence. Cool house by the way. The Sorority house is a hit with the new arrivals but the music tells use that this is a horror movie.  Kappa Tau Omega is back in business in a beautiful house but is it haunted? There is some strange cuts at this point in the film where I think
  Effective music carries this part of the film where the girls are introduced and at the same time there are notable instances of a haunting. As much as I appreciate that so far all the characters are minorities and that there are some strong personalities in the story. It is bothersome that there are the cat-fighting mentality we see so much when young adult women are portrayed on screen. Chloe (Kira Modallo Sesay) who is president of the sorority has to establish her dominance not only by bullying her friend and roommate Isabel (Anica Barbosa) about the accompaniments of office but is a bit nasty to the other women around her, like Tessa who walks in at the wrong time and and tries to defend Isabel about her diet. Sure it builds Chloe as a self driven leader but also fulfills a cliche about women having to cut each other down to get ahead.
  The men connected to these women are shown as the classic and not complex hound dogs looking to get their dicks wet. They come around looking to sneak into the new building to get a bit of ass. There disrespect of  Chloe' homecoming sash and tiara as well as their homophobic comments definitely define them as the least desirable type of men.
 The woman are also somewhat catty with each other. We do get our ghost story and the girls are strong enough to not be scared by by the story. Chloe again comes through as a mean spirited character showing no sympathy for Dalia's tale. Some cliche scenes where the men are wandering around scaring each other and the women using a Ouija board to summon the spirit. Teasing Eve seems to be the in thing to do and it is probably not the most feminist approach to character that the writers could have taken. It serves it's purpose to separate her from the group though so again even if I don't like the choices there are reasons behind them.
 Smoking pot, drinking and hooking up become the game once the men are discovered, cut between those scenes and Eve in the tub. So there is an establishment between sex and death as is the most classic of horror tropes except in this case there is some female dominance in the sexual scenes (Isabel) and the kill of Tessa in the tub is short, too short to make it frightening. That quick editing of scenes, not allowing them to play out must have had its reasons but it is hard for the viewer to know them. way to make a bulimic vomit scene a bit scary but again they cut too soon, and only come back to it as a mechanism to show it is still going on for her.  Also sort are the kills not enough staying with the scene. Better is when Kip (Farley Jackson) and Roxy (Erika Ringer) get there death scenes after a game of strip one on one basketball but it is really the ghost they follow through with it. Short and sweet on the scary is the general rule but big on the music which continues to make the mood right.
  Like all well constructed horror movies the kills happen in isolation and the discovery of the bodies have to wait until the cast is whittled down to a few. This film is classically constructed horror and we even have Star (Amy Black) the artist in a trans creating art that shows the killer, the ghost of Dahlia reaching out to us.
Aside: Pizza dude was funny the spirit infested bong of death. A white character which was amusing in his pot head character.
So close to having a whole a black cast. Our dream girl Tessa (Terry Bookhart) from the beginning of the film and Chloe seem to be the only ones that have a chance to be the final girl.  The make it out of the house and into a vehicle and then there is this strange exchange to explain away that it is Isabel's car and how did Tessa get the keys. I really don't think the audience cares that it's not one of the survivors car. Of course in cliche form the car does not start and the ghost finds them. Tessa becomes the final girl that the ghost is following her and since she had the dream it is structurally sound. That said it really makes Chloe expendable so you can guess that now that they have run back into the haunted house that shit is going to go down for her.
  Clever Tessa does the smartest thing in the film by calling Billy Bart and tricking him into coming to the house. Will it be too late for her though? Can she talk to Dahlia and make a deal?  Billy Bart arrives the dog he is and makes really inappropriate comments to Tessa. The ghost gets a chance to reconcile the past and Tessa gets out of it. The final scene between Dahlia and Billy was pretty damn remarkable and unexpected. It really gives an ending to the very sad 1950's tale. Predictably this circular story predicted by the introduction of the dream sequence was a bit expected.
  Overall I have to say the film was alright, it has a really nice horror score and a story that is solid enough. The almost exclusively African American cast although a bit cartoonish, because of the horror structure not their race could have been better drawn better. The men were just pieces to be killed horny guys looking for ass. The women were stereotypes that showed little compassion or caring for each other. Still the story was really well structured with a bit of a slower pace which was good but with short cut editing that made it a bit scattered. The lighting was cheap candle light and color filters which is a mark of low budget horror, but the music was moody and for the most part pretty spot on.  Still a video transfer that was dark and hard to see is not good.The DVD presentation was poor with the blue screen and now title window or scene selection. I can't say that  hated this film but it has enough drawbacks to not make it a recommended film either. There are a tone of cliche horror elements that take away from the fact that it is a women writer / director and an all black cast, things you do not often find in horror and which the genre could use more of. So sort of a middle of the road approach to this one
As I have done so far this year; I am doing as an experiment my Twitter account @Soresport is dedicated to following and being followed by people in and behind the scenes. Then I am also hoping some of them follow me back. I do fear that Twitter has become too much of a promotional tool for people in film to actually get those follow backs but hey its an experiment. Now since the last post I have been followed back by @elskemccain who was in the Splatter Movie Thanks!  So Far though I have followed 75 people with only four following back, not a very good ratio. So lets see who I can get from this latest film in my little social media experiment.
 

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