Thoughts on… The House on Sorority Row (1983)

The House on Sorority Row, 1983.

Directed by Mark Rosman.
Starring Eileen Davidson, Kate McNeil, and Lois Kelso Hunt.


SYNOPSIS:

A house on sorority row finds itself home to a series of murders after a prank goes terribly wrong.


Much like Black Christmas (1974), this movie concerns itself with the fate of a group of girls living in a sorority house. When an ill-judged prank goes predictably wrong, seven girls find themselves attempting to cover up a murder. Unfortunately for the girls, it appears that someone is aware of what they’ve done – and someone isn’t very happy about it.

As far as slasher movies go, The House on Sorority Row is fairly standard. The girls are led by Vicki (Eileen Davidson), the brains behind the prank that gets out of hand. She decides it would be best to hide the body since the sorority house will soon be hosting a graduation party, to which the rest of the girls reluctantly agree. Katherine (Kate McNeil) is the only girl willing to stand up to Vicki, and thus emerges as our heroine and final girl. She is eventually persuaded to go along with the plan, but is visibly disturbed by the events whilst the rest of the girls attempt to move on, ensuring she has our sympathies. The characterisation of Katherine and Vicky is quite impressive, although at the expense of the rest of the girls who become fairly indistinguishable from each other.

I have to admit, for a slasher movie this is acted rather well. There is really only one noticeably weak link amongst the group of girls, and both Davidson and McNeil are surprisingly convincing. The narrative may hit familiar notes, but the pacing keeps the story flowing with enough death scenes sprinkled in to keep everything interesting. A bizarre prologue to the film initially seems out of place but its purpose is revealed before the end – although viewers wise to the conventions of the genre are likely to guess the identity of the killer before the reveal.

The House on Sorority Row contains a couple of expertly crafted creepy moments that director Mark Rosman pulls off spectacularly. It’s these moments that make the film memorable, and it’s a shame the rest of the film is more intent on going for shock and gore – a little restraint can go a long way. That said, The House on Sorority Row is still an entertaining little movie, and although it may feel familiar in places it does manage to offer enough difference to not feel wholly derivative. Newcomers to the slasher genre should probably visit Black Christmas first, which I marginally prefer, but fans of the genre should find plenty to enjoy here.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film ★ ★ ★ / Movie ★ ★ ★ ★

Liam Underwood