I’d guess I’m not the only British person who is kind of flummoxed by the concept of fraternity houses in America. They seem to mix the snobbery of Oxbridge and elite private schools with the inanest elements of toxic masculinity. At least, this is how they’re often portrayed on our screens. Fraternities and sororities have been popular settings for genre filmmakers over the years, most successfully in Bob Clark’s Black Christmas. In Initiation, they are at heart of the action.
During a homecoming party a sorority sister (Isabella Gomez) is found passed out in one of the dorm rooms in Sigma Nu Pi fraternity house. This worries Ellery Scott (Lindsay LaVanchy) as her brother Wes (Froy Gutierrez), an Olympic swimming hopeful, was there at the time and also involved in a buried sexual assault allegation last year. Whilst she begins to carry out her own investigations, someone else appears to be taking matters into their own hands.
Initiation mixes modern campus sexual politics and online bullying with an old-school slasher tale to create an uneven yet entertaining revenge thriller. John Berardo’s film starts off as a #Metoo drama, with limited success, but picks up when the killer enters the arena. The social message is slightly confused and the identity of the ‘avenger’ might raise a few eyebrows, but once it gets going Initiation is a pacey and bloody slice of horror cinema.
Initiation is released on DVD and Digital Platforms from 24 May