Title: Haunted House on Sorority Row (2014)
Director: Henrique Couto
Runtime: 81 minutes
“A fledgling sorority moves into a dilapidated house only to find something evil is lurking in the shadows. Is it an elaborate hazing ritual? Or is something sinister – something paranormal – behind the mental and physical assault?”
While the film’s plot, as described on the back of the DVD box, sounds interesting, it’s misleading, and it doesn’t do Haunted House on Sorority Row justice for what it attempts to achieve. The movie is about a group of girls who bought this house in the middle of nowhere to act as their new sorority home. They know of a previous murder involving a pitch fork, and that the last owners left suddenly. The film actually opens with a horny couple entering the house and seeing a naked woman, then jumps to the lead girl buying the home.
The entire film is more of a character study than a horror film. The evil inside the house uses each girl’s darkest secrets to terrorize them. This makes us connect to each character, but I still don’t remember a single name. Instead, I know them by their sins.
The entire cast is pretty rough around the edges, channeling their best high school play memories, and it hurts the film. Still, it allows for the B-movie they are clearly striving for. During the “making of” feature on the DVD, the lead actress reveals that the girl who was originally hired to play her role dropped out, and she got the part thanks to a Facebook post.
To make matters even stranger, the director, Henrique Couto, reveals that this entire film was shot in four days. Not consecutively, even. Instead they filmed two and a half days one week, and then came back two weeks later to film the last two days! I’ve never been on a film set, but this seems crazy, and sums up why the performances are the way they are.
Haunted House on Sorority Row is shot fairly well, and looks sharp on DVD, but it clearly isn’t filmed with high-end digital cameras. The script is filled with silly one-liners in the first half. These mostly miss the mark, and feel childish, but there are a few that made me laugh at the absurdity of it all. The female characters come off as strong women, a huge plus considering the genre, but every girl gets butt naked, showing both boobs and bush. The ghosts are always naked with a pillowcase over their head. These decisions, while aimed at genre fans, hurt the message the film could have actually conveyed, which speaks volumes since this is absolutely a B-movie.
Haunted House on Sorority Row is really tame on the gore, with only a few moments of blood. There was a scene involving vomit that made me turn away because it was just too nasty to look at. The film’s biggest flaw comes from the sound department. I’m not sure what they were aiming for here, but every time a ghost is silently in the background, there is a weird, 8-bit video game sound that screams from the TV. It’s so ridiculous that it killed any tension the film could have hoped for.
The DVD, from Independent Entertainment, contains a commentary track, and a fairly beefy “making of” segment, which filled in a lot of information about what went into finding the locations, and so on. There’s also a short film from the director called Bed Demon. This five-minute short is actually really good, and nails the horror/comedy sub-genre.
Haunted House on Sorority Row might be lacking in the blood, and may miss the mark for what they were aiming for, but it’s still a watchable, flawed film. B-movie fans will probably eat it up for the T&A, and the obvious genre homages. Haunted House on Sorority Row is not for everyone, but I enjoyed it well enough.
Haunted House on Sorority Row (2014) was released on DVD by Independent Entertainment on July 22, 2014. Cinefessions was provided a DVD copy of the film for review by Independent Entertainment.
Chris was raised on horror films, which gave him a deep love for the genre, especially its most quirky and offbeat titles (like A Nightmare on Elm Street 2). This love quickly turned into an obsession for cinema in 1997, when he decided he needed to see every major theatrical release. Video games (JRPGs), reading (anything but fantasy), and reality television (Survivor) are just some of his other passions. He’s been with Cinefessions since 2013, and has been writing reviews all over the internet for the past twelve years.