In 1959, a pregnant sorority sister named Dahlia Walker (Tafne Ellington) is devastated by the rejection of her boyfriend and, following some taunts from her fellow sisters, commits suicide by stabbing her va-jay-jay with a sewing needle.
Two deaths for the price of one.
Fast-forward to present day, and a new sorority, Kappa Tau Omega, moves into their new home, having received a killer (excuse me, while I give immense punniness a pat on the back) deal that usually comes with most suicides and (or) murders that lead to home hauntings. After christening the place by either commenting on how much it sucks or disrespecting the memory of their fellow spectral sorority mate, they settle in and enjoy the comfort of their new home.
Just kidding, Dahlia kills them all.
Back around when I was just out of high school, about eleven or twelve years ago, some friends and I got together to make a short comedy similar to the 1963 madcap film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. There was no script; I would set the scene up for everyone and then we’d improvise. There was no sound guy unless you count the built-in mic in the VHS camcorder that was being used. There would be no post-production editing; when to end the scene was discussed in the setup. And, as I’d always fall back on in my short film days, the back and front entrances to my parents’ home served as two different sets.
Looking back, it’s as awfully amateurish of a film as one can possibly get. That said, I will toot the fuck out of my own horn by saying it’s still ten times more coherent and ten times more technically competent than Sorority Sister Slaughter.
That says a lot when you consider that this film, I’m assuming, had a budget. The only budget I was working with was whatever gas money I used to get to the other set. By other set, I mean some random road we decided to shoot on.
Much like my crappy short films from back in the day, Sorority Sister Slaughter should’ve never seen the light of day, but for some reason York Entertainment felt differently. It is based on a true story, and I believe it ’cause the film says so at the beginning, so like Schindler’s List, Apollo 13, Zodiac, 127 Hours, Ray, Walk the Line and The Ouija Experiment, the folks over at York felt this was a film that the world needed to see.
Judging from the crappy sound quality, I’m guessing hearing it wasn’t as big a deal.
From a storytelling standpoint, this film is laughable from the start, opening with the least convincing ’50s setting I’ve seen in film. You can slap “1959” on the screen and give the characters letter jackets all you want; it still looks like actors performing against a blank apartment wall and speaking lingo you’d expect to hear from 2007.
It’s not that the premise is inherently bad. It’s the familiar urban legend narrative of so and so killing themselves and the place being cursed by their presence ever since. Enter the new sorority residents/victims decades later, and let the body count commence. No, it’s not the freshest idea out there, but it’s still a decent premise for newbies to cut their teeth on – well, provided you’re not cutting your teeth with a villain that looks Buckwheat’s twin sister targeting characters this stupid. Granted, characters in horror films aren’t known for their intelligence, but I’d like to think they’re a notch smarter than knowing of the one who allegedly haunts their sorority home, yet still giddily talking of pawning the deceased’s commitment/engagement ring. Flaunting it on your ring finger isn’t that much brighter of a move either.
Ohhhh, look at that. They’re breaking out the Ouija board too. Just put them down already.
Some of the kills make no sense. Why is she vomiting up plastic-looking bugs? I’m not getting the connection to either her or Dahlia. That said, I have no other choice than to award bonus points for having one girl dribbled to death by a basketball on her forehead. I can honestly say I haven’t seen that before.
How much PSI is in that thing?
Sorority Sister Slaughter’s most damning crime – aside from setting blacks back if not all the way to slavery, then at least segregation – is how incredibly poor the technical aspects are. The sound ranges between barely audible and “Was this shot next to a jet engine?” The clearest sound is Tessa’s fake, dubbed-in scream that’s replayed over and over on an irritating loop as Miss Buckwheat chases her down (“Hi-ya, Tetha, I’m uh-na tack ‘ou down an mate ‘ou sceem why I beat ‘ou ta deaf!”). Just as punishing on your sense of hearing, you sense of sight is mercilessly given a beatdown by whatever low-rent discotheque DJ they had shoot this film. I get it. You’re trying to create some sorta spooky atmosphere by bathing the hell out of each and every scene in the ugliest tinted reds and blues. What you don’t get is that there are a number of aspects that go into creating atmosphere: Score, editing, pacing and yes, cinematography. They all work together to create the film’s mood.
However, you can splash tinted reds and blues all across the screen all you want. You didn’t create atmosphere. You created a laser tag arena.
Sorority Sister Slaughter has a simple enough premise that beginning filmmakers could make something decent out of, and only a reasonable amount of effort would be required to do so. By reasonable effort, I mean an editing job that doesn’t look like a patchy, chopped up mess, nauseating enough to give someone with a high nausea tolerance like me a severe bout of motion sickness. By reasonable effort, I mean an external sound recording device really would’ve gone a long way. By reasonable effort, I mean characters that aren’t so annoying I wanted to reach through the screen and choke them to death. And by reasonable effort, I mean giving us a tortured villain that doesn’t have me expecting Spanky and Alfalfa to round the corner with her too.
Whoever might’ve been in charge of these technical tasks – well, the term “deaf, dumb and blind” comes to mind.
He sure plays a mean pinball, but he films like shit.