5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliant, 22 Jun. 2010
I'm not a fan of new slasher movies. They're cliched and never say anything new. From today's viewpoint, one could say The House on Sorority Row is somewhat cliched as well. The story is that there are a group of girls who have just graduated and are staying in their sorority house so they can hold their graduation party there. The house mother, Mrs Slater, however, has a policy that all the girls must be out by a specific date and is not too pleased when she finds they're still there. One of the girls talks the others into playing a prank on Mrs Slater to demonstrate that they won't be pushed around. The prank goes wrong, however, and Mrs Slater is killed. The girl who came up with the prank doesn't want to take responsibility for what happened so she talks the others into hiding the body in the swimming pool until the party is over. She claims that they will ALL get in trouble, not just those responsible for the prank (the law student girl should really have known that wasn't true). During the party, the girls then start getting picked off one by one - the question is, is it Mrs Slater back from the grave? Or is it someone else?
You have to keep in mind that this was one of the first slasher movies. The slasher movie conventions, so nicely laid bare for us in Scream, weren't written yet, which means that at the time it was made it wasn't cliched. At times, after the introductory flashback scenes, for instance, the film seems like it's going to be some kind of drama about college life. And the way Mrs Slater is portrayed deals with 'tradition vs the new'. When she was younger, women didn't behave in the way the girls in the sorority house did (not so blatantly anyway) and you get the feeling that she yearns for an earlier time, a time that she was comfortable with. So this film isn't just a series of increasingly gruesome deaths, it does have some depth to it as well.
None of the characters are 2-dimensional and the acting isn't all that bad considering it's a slasher movie.
Oh, and the ending is absolutely brilliant. It was clearly influenced by a certain scene in Halloween, but in my opinion was far more flesh-crawling.
So, all in all, this is one of the best slasher movies I've seen. It deals with themes that are there not just as an aside from all the deaths, and it deals with them quite sensitively. Mrs Slater was a sympathetic character and I felt sad for her when the prank went wrong - it's not often that I can say I feel much emotion during a slasher movie. So take a look at this film as a window into the beginnings of the slasher movie genre, but also as a window into the social changes afoot in the early 1980s.