Sorority Row -- Film Review

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This remake of the little-known 1983 horror film "The House on Sorority Row" clearly is designed to appeal to the growing female teen audience for slasher flicks. But the people likely to get the biggest scares from this salacious effort, which opened Friday without press screenings, are older folks -- particularly the parents of young girls headed for college. For, as "Sorority Row" would have it, their little darlings will immediately become oversexed, booze-swilling, pill-taking, amoral sluts.

Despite its provenance, the film is most likely to inspire comparisons to "I Know What You Did Last Summer" and its sequels, with which it shares the basic plot line of young people trying to cover up a murderous deed, only to find that it comes back to bite them in the ass.

Anyone who's seen the film's trailer already knows the plot, which was laid out in explicit detail: A group of sorority sisters pull a prank in which they convince a cheating boyfriend that the girl he's dosed with (fake) roofies is dead. Unfortunately, he then kills her for real with a tire iron, and the group decides to dump the body down an abandoned mine, with no one the wiser.

Cut to graduation several months later, when each of the conspirators receives an incriminating picture on their cell phones. Shortly thereafter, a menacing figure wearing a hooded black graduation gown starts killing them off one by one with a tricked-up tire iron, among other nasty devices.

The secret behind the identity of the killer is not exactly a mystery of Agatha Christie-style proportions, with the film's basic appeal stemming from watching the often scantily clad, nubile leads trading bitchy barbs shortly before being dispatched in bloodily efficient fashion.

There's little to distinguish this from the rest of the entries coming down the horror film assembly line, though the presence of Carrie Fisher as a shotgun-toting housemother who taunts the killer by shouting "Come to mama!" offers some camp value.

Performances are about what you'd expect, though Rumer Willis stands out as the most intellectually minded of the girls -- or, as one of them describes her, "a spellchecker with a nice rack." Disconcertingly, her co-star Briana Evigan looks and sounds so uncannily like a young Demi Moore that she could be Willis' real-life sibling.

Opened: Friday, Sept. 11 (Summit Entertainment)
Production: Karz Entertainment
Rated R, 101 minutes
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